The manufacturing sector was down 0.4% in April due mainly to a drop in auto manufacturing and durable goods. Today’s truck tonnage report indicates that, as expected, trucking was affected by this decline. As reported in Transport Topics, tonnage for April was down 0.7% vs. March.

The decline in durable goods (furniture, carpeting, etc.) is mainly attributable to high gas prices competing for consumer dollars. The decline in auto manufacturing was due to parts shortages stemming from the Japan disaster. Here’s what we know about these areas of manufacturing:

- Gas prices are currently on their way down, returning closer to their historical relationship to the price of crude. This process should free up consumer dollars and alleviate downward pressure on durable goods.
- Auto manufacturing dropped due to lack of parts, not lack of demand. Once parts shortages are alleviated in the 3rd and 4th quarters, the industry should rebound pretty steeply as manufacturers play catch-up.

In light of all this, April’s tonnage results were basically an expected blip in what should continue to be an upward trend.