Rising demand in the long-stagnant industrial sector and a big seasonal boost in e-commerce are moving more goods on the land, water and air, say operators who expect the US economy to keep growing into 2018.
"This week has been one of our busiest this year," said intermodal chief Shane Van Der Waag, of The Dependable Companies in Southern California. "We hit up other companies to help us out and they've been fully stacked and packed as well."
The US Commerce Department has reported the economic output grew at a 3.3 per cent annual rate in the third quarter, faster than earlier estimated, and the reports from shipping sites suggest the muscular economic growth is continuing in the fourth quarter.
Freight volumes at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach usually begin to slow as Black Friday nears, but Mr Van Der Waag said his drivers remained as busy as ever.
The nation's top ports, Los Angeles-Long Beach and New York-New Jersey posted a 2.5 per cent year on year increase in throughput in October.
Demand is also surging on the roads. The Cass Truckload Linehaul Index, which measures per-mile pricing for truckload carriers, rose 5.5 per cent year on year in October, reaching an all-time high.
Cass also reported that October freight shipments rose 2.9 per cent and companies spent 11.2 per cent more to ship goods in October than they did a year ago, a sign that transport prices are rising as retailers and manufacturers compete for space in increasingly crowded transport networks.
Online freight marketplace DAT Solutions said it saw the highest number of weekly loads in mid-November than it had ever measured for spot van freight, with demand up 20 per cent.