The total cost of getting products from supplier to consumer rose to $1.45 trillion in 2014, as the nation’s supply chain industry enjoyed its best year since the Great Recession, according to a new report.
Business logistics costs were up 3.1% over the previous year and equated to about 8.3% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). The results were included in the 26th annual State of Logistics Report from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), which has more than 9,000 members worldwide.
The report measured costs associated with the movement of freight through the U.S. supply chain. Overall, it found that as consumer spending has increased, retailers have upped their orders, resulting in more freight shipments.
Last year, rail sector costs increased by 6.5% to reach their highest recorded total, returning traffic volume to levels not seen since before the recession of 2007 to 2009, the council reported. More shipments of coal and grain pushed total rail carloads up by 3.9%.
Demand for coal also helped inland waterway traffic bounce back in 2014, with assistance from increased petroleum shipping by barge and a robust harvest of agricultural crops. Costs related to freight shipped via inland waterways and U.S. ports were up 8.9%.
The air cargo sector saw its supply chain costs decline slightly (1.2%) as other transportation modes competed for freight shipments. Despite freight rates being kept lower, nearly $1 billion in goods was shipped by air, which was a record total. That included $543 billion in imports and $444 billion in exports.
The supply chain outlook for 2015 looks equally strong, partly as the result of improved employment rates and falling gas prices leaving consumers with more money to spend, according to the CSCMP’s annual report.
The report is likely good news for anyone considering a career in logistics and supply chain management. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of supply chain professionals known as logisticians will grow by 22% between 2012 and 2022. That’s double the average growth rate for all occupations nationwide during that same decade.
Candidates with a college degree and prior logistics experience, including as military servicemembers, are expected to have stronger employment prospects.