Logistics Industry Canada-US
Changes in the number of trucks crossing the Canada-United States border are indicative of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the trucking and logistics industry. The number of trucks entering the United States from Canada had significantly dropped in April and May, but signs of the industry's recovery had been observed in the months of June to July. In July, the number of trucks entering Canada from the United States was back to pre-COVID-19 levels.
- The United States' Bureau of Transportation Statistics provides monthly border crossing or entry data, which can be filtered by year, month, border, state, port name, and measure. The monthly data can be filtered to provide the monthly number of trucks entering the United States from Canada. The latest available data is for the month of May 2020.
- Though the dataset for the year 2020 does not yet include months June and July, it shows, to some extent, how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the trucking and logistics industry.
- As can be seen in the attached spreadsheet and the chart below, significant drops in crossings have been observed in the months of April and May.
- From 461,858 in March, the number of trucks entering the United States had dropped to 316,002 in April.
- The number increased slightly to 347,669 in May, but compared to the number recorded in May 2019, this number was still low.
- Between March 2019 and March 2020, the number of trucks entering the United States from Canada had dropped by around 5% from 488,046 to 461,858. It was in late March that the United States and Canada had agreed to limit trips across their shared border to essential trips. Trucks carrying essential cargo were still allowed to cross the border though.
- Between April 2019 and April 2020, the number of trucks entering the United States from Canada had dropped by around 34% from 480,477 to 316,002.
- Between May 2019 and May 2020, the number of trucks entering the United States from Canada had dropped by around 31% from 507,425 to 347,669.
- Immediately after the United States and Canada had closed their common border to non-essential trips, media outlets started reporting a plunge in truck border crossings. In the first week of April, for example, news surfaced that in the week ending March 29, the number of trucks entering Canada from the United States had dropped by almost 24% compared to the same period a year ago. According to the Canada Border Services Agency, the number had dropped from 115,239 to 88,290.
- An improvement was observed in late May when an uptick in the number of trucks entering Canada from the United States was reported. In the week ending May 17, more than 81,000 trucks entered Canada from the United States, the highest weekly number recorded after the week ending March 29. The number, however, was still 30.6% lower relative to what was recorded in 2019.
- The number seemed to be on an upward trend since there was a report in June that the number had reached more than 101,000 in the week ending June 17. Though the number was still 15.62% lower relative to the same week in 2019, it was a sign that the trucking industry is slowly recovering from the COVID-19 crisis. The recovery can be attributed to the reopening of the economies of the two countries.
- Truck crossings were back to pre-COVID-19 levels in early July. Numbers were already close to levels recorded in 2019. In the week ending July 5, 2020, the number of trucks entering Canada from the United States reached 87,549, nearly the same as 87,550, the number recorded in the week ending July 7, 2019.
- An expert believes these latest numbers are a sign that manufacturing, especially automobile manufacturing, is starting to bounce back. The automotive industry is an industry that strongly influences the movement of trucks.
To find the monthly number of trucks crossing the Canada/United States border, we examined the publications and databases of related government agencies such as the United States Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transport Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, and Statistics Canada. This led us to the monthly border crossing or entry data published by the United States Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Unfortunately, though, this monthly data is up to May 2020 only. By reviewing other sources such as media articles and trucking industry news sites, we were able to supplement this monthly data with some weekly data for the months of March to July.