The infographic above demonstrates that as we close the first quarter of 2018, all signs point to another strong quarter for industrial real estate. Essential indicators for industrial demand remain high, including distribution industry job growth. In March 2018, the three industries directly related to job growth hit all-time highs for total employed in the U.S., including truck transportation (1.48 million), couriers and messengers (722,900) and warehousing and storage (1.01 million).
Rail traffic across the U.S. continues to post strong fundamentals, with year-to-date (March 2018) total rail traffic up 2%. Seaports continue to boom with loaded inbound and outbound container volumes all posting solid numbers with year-to-date (February 2018) loaded inbound container volumes up 7.1% compared with the same time a year ago. The U.S. manufacturing industry also remains in expansion territory with the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) at 59.3%. This represents the 19th consecutive month that this manufacturing measurement has been in growth territory.
E-commerce sales continue to increase, finishing 2017 (the most recent data available) at $453.5 billion in the U.S., a 16% increase compared with 2016. At the end of 2017, e-commerce sales represented 10.3% of non-auto related retail sales. While the future of trade, including NAFTA and China, seems to change daily, all signs point to another strong quarter of industrial real estate fundamentals. Look for more information, including our first quarter report, to be released in the coming weeks.