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But because of such a staggering fall in the middle of 2020, Costello said it would be at least a year before the U.S. economy truly rebounds from the pandemic recession. “It’s going to take some time,” he said, adding that there is good news for the trucking industry, which is doing better than other sectors.


Typically, trucking is among the worst hit by recessions because fleet


“It is in times of disruptive events that the biggest opportunities appear,” he said. “I hope that you’ll take advantage of the opportunities and not see these events just as problems but as things you can take advantage of.


— Bob Costello ATA Chief Economist


customers are affected the most. “Ironically, this time — despite being the worst drop in recession history, in the shortest amount of time — the parts of the economy that are performing better happen to be our customers in many respects, certainly on the consumer side,” Costello said.


McLeod Software founder and CEO Tom McLeod said he’s heard from many trucking customers who are having record years during the pandemic. Among the feedback he’s heard, is the fleets that were prepared with the right technology, such as automation, “have done really well during this period,” McLeod said during his User Conference opening remarks on Sept. 29.


The difference can be seen in how consumers are spending on goods versus services this year. “In normal times, we spend a lot more on services,” Costello said. “We usually spend about two-thirds of our money on services and one third on goods.”


While spending on both fell during the second quarter, goods consumption fell just 5% while services dropped 15% on an annualized basis, according to Costello. By the third quarter, goods consumption was higher than it had been at the


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