Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Will UK Interest Rate Rises Crash House Prices? - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Full on Crash Alert for Major World Stock Markets... - Clive_Maund
3.Gold And Silver Market Bottoming? Big Rally Imminent? Reality Check Says NO - Michael_Noonan
4.The Coming Silver Price Rally Will Outperform All Previous Ones - Hubert_Moolman
5.The Trigger For The Upcoming Stock Crash - Harry_Dent
6.Imploding Department Store Results - James_Quinn
7.Dr. Copper is Speaking, are you Listening? ... - Rambus_Chartology
8.Pandemonium in the Stock Market, Dow falls 1,000 points in a week - EWI
9.Asia's Whirling Dervish of Devaluations Has Encircled China's Exports - Keith_Hilden
10.China Weakens the Yuan; Rattles Global Stock and Financial Markets - Gary_Dorsch
Last 5 days
OPEC Divorce And Self-Destruction Thanks To Saudi Crude Oil Strategy? - 1st Sept 15
The Beginning Of A New Financial / Stock Market Cycle - 1st Sept 15
Three Things Every Master Trader Knows About Trading Options - 1st Sept 15
Chinese Yuan Revolution? - 1st Sept 15
Take Advantage of Record-High Auto Sales… Before This Bubble Bursts - 1st Sept 15
Pondering Hitler's Legacy - 1st Sept 15
Mainstream Media Goes Berserk - 1st Sept 15
Your Decisive Stock Market Plan to Follow Whilst Most Investors Shiver With Fear - 1st Sept 15
Are There Stock and Financial Markets Investing Opportunities For The Remainder Of 2015 - 1st Sept 15
Crude Oil Price Forecast 2015 and 2016 - 1st Sept 15
REPO Window Hidden $Trillion QE Monthly Volume - 31st Aug 15
Silver and Warnings From Exponential Markets - 31st Aug 15
Stock Market Calls Fed’s Bluff - 31st Aug 15
Why Some ETFs Led the Stock Markets Down Last Week - 31st Aug 15
Stock Market Collapse - Take The Opportunity To Bail Before It’s Too Late! - 31st Aug 15
The Most Important Market Chart on The Planet - 31st Aug 15
Stock Market 50% Retracement - 31st Aug 15
Stock Market Crash Red Alert for 2nd Downwave... - 31st Aug 15
Independant Scotland 1 Year on, UK Civil War If the SNP Fanatics Had Succeeded - 30th Aug 15
Gold’s 7 Point Broadening Top - 30th Aug 15
The Day the Stock Market Shook the Earth: Takeaways From the Dow’s 1,000-Point Drop - 30th Aug 15
Gold Price Rally Marked by Short Covering - 30th Aug 15
Aging Stocks Bull Market - 29th Aug 15
Economic Destabilization, Financial Meltdown and the Rigging of the Shanghai Stock Market? - 29th Aug 15
The Stocks You Should Be Buying After the Market Drop - 29th Aug 15
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Market Fluctuations - 28th Aug 15
China's Yuan Devaluation: Why It Was "Expected" - 28th Aug 15
Stocks Go Nuts But the Question Remains – Will the Rally Stick? - 28th Aug 15
Fed’s Stock Market Levitation is Failing - 28th Aug 15
The Eight Energy Systems Driving The Stock Market Rout - 28th Aug 15
Silver Sold, then Squeezed - 28th Aug 15
U.S. Economic Fundamentals 'Look Good' - Bullard of St. Louis Fed - 28th Aug 15
Stock Market Margin Calls Mount - 28th Aug 15
Einstein, Physics, Gold and The Formula To End Economic Decay - 28th Aug 15
The 10 Best Stocks for Options Trading Plays in This Market - 28th Aug 15
Economics of a Stock Market Crash - 28th Aug 15
Currency Wars Detonate; Gold Refuses to Budge - 28th Aug 15
UK Immigration Crisis Hits New Record, Trending Towards Becoming a Catastrophe - 28th Aug 15
The Ultimate Cash-Management Guide - 27th Aug 15
Why a Fed Rate Hike Could Be a Blessing for Gold Prices - 27th Aug 15
Why Devaluing the Yuan Won't Help China's Economy - 27th Aug 15
Stock Market Trend & Trade Signal Of the Decade - 27th Aug 15
Keep Your Eye On the Gold and Silver Bear - 27th Aug 15
Refugees Expose Europe’s Lack Of Decency - 27th Aug 15
How to Profit from China's Currency War - 27th Aug 15
How China's Currency Policies Will Change the World - 27th Aug 15
Chinese Medicine not Impressing Dr Copper - 27th Aug 15
Novel Biotech Novel Technology Platforms with Dramatic Growth Potential - 27th Aug 15
China Stocks Bear Market Crash, Are We Near the Bottom Yet? - 27th Aug 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Global Stocks Slide

U.S. Miles Driven Economic Indicator Hits Another Post-Crisis Low

Economics / US Economy Dec 23, 2012 - 10:36 AM GMT

By: PhilStockWorld

Economics

Courtesy of Doug Short.The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Commission has released the latest report on Traffic Volume Trends, data through October. Travel on all roads and streets changed by 0.3% (0.9 billion vehicle miles) for October 2012 as compared with October 2011. The 12-month moving average of miles driven increased only 0.51% from October a year ago (PDF report). And the civilian population-adjusted data (age 16-and-over) has set another post-financial crisis low.


Here is a chart that illustrates this data series from its inception in 1970. I’m plotting the “Moving 12-Month Total on ALL Roads,” as the DOT terms it. See Figure 1 in the PDF report, which charts the data from 1987. My start date is 1971 because I’m incorporating all the available data from the DOT spreadsheets.

 

The rolling 12-month miles driven contracted from its all-time high for 39 months during the stagflation of the late 1970s to early 1980s, a double-dip recession era. The most recent dip has lasted for 55 months and counting — a new record, but the trough to date was in November 2011, 48 months from the all-time high.

The Population-Adjusted Reality

Total Miles Driven, however, is one of those metrics that should be adjusted for population growth to provide the most revealing analysis, especially if we’re trying to understand the historical context. We can do a quick adjustment of the data using an appropriate population group as the deflator. I use the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Civilian Noninstitutional Population Age 16 and Over (FRED series CNP16OV). The next chart incorporates that adjustment with the growth shown on the vertical axis as the percent change from 1971.

 

 

Clearly, when we adjust for population growth, the Miles-Driven metric takes on a much darker look. The nominal 39-month dip that began in May 1979 grows to 61 months, slightly more than five years. The trough was a 6% decline from the previous peak.

The population-adjusted all-time high dates from June 2005. That’s 88 months — over seven years ago. The latest data, for October 2012, is 8.68% below the 2005 peak, a new post-Financial Crisis low. Our adjusted miles driven based on the 16-and-older age cohort is about where we were as a nation in February 1995.

Here is a closer look at the series since 2000, which gives a better look at the 2012 flatline — similar to the equivalent months in 2010.

 

About that Population Adjustment…

I’ve frequently been asked why I use the CNP16OV data for the population adjustment, often with the suggestion that it would make more sense to limit the population to licensed drivers. For openers, I don’t know of a valid source for the driver-licensed population. Moreover, the correlation between license holders and actual drivers is not a reliable one. Many license holders in households do not drive, especially in their older years. According to Census Bureau data on gasoline sales (courtesy of Harry Dent’s research on demand curves), dollars spent on gasoline peaks for people in their late 40s and falls off rather quickly after that.

In fact, I think there’s a good case for using the Census Bureau’s mid-month estimates of total population (POPTHM) rather than civilians age 16 and over for the population adjustment. The reason is that a portion of total miles driven is specifically to support children’s needs (day care, schools, children’s activities, etc.) and the needs of elders who might have licenses but no longer drive. Ultimately the division of miles driven by either population group (CNP16OV or POPTHM), while not a perfect match with drivers, is a consistent and relevant metric for evaluating economic growth.

Here is the same population-adjusted chart, this time with the total population for the adjustment. In the total-population adjusted version the post-recession low is the latest data point of -7.38%.

 

 

What about the impact of volatile gasoline prices? How much of a factor has that been in the trend? I’ll close with an overlay of the population-adjusted miles driven and gasoline prices since the early 1990s.

 

 

As is readily apparent, the correlation is fairly weak over the entire timeframe (+0.32). And, despite the volatility in gasoline prices since the onset of the Great Recession, the correlation since December 2007 has been even weaker (-0.26). There are profound behavioral issues apart from gasoline prices that are influencing miles driven. These would include the demographics of an aging population in which older people drive less, continuing high unemployment, and the ever-growing ability to work remote in the era of the Internet.

One particularly interesting trend was highlighted in a recent study on “Transportation and the New Generation” by the Frontier Group.

From 2001 to 2009, the average annual number of vehicle miles traveled by young people (16 to 34-year-olds) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita?a drop of 23 percent. [PDF source]

The DOT “miles driven” metric is also interesting to study in the context of gasoline volume sales, which I also update monthly:

- Phil

Click here for a free trial to Stock World Weekly.

www.philstockworld.com

Philip R. Davis is a founder of Phil's Stock World (www.philstockworld.com), a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders. Mr. Davis is a serial entrepreneur, having founded software company Accu-Title, a real estate title insurance software solution, and is also the President of the Delphi Consulting Corp., an M&A consulting firm that helps large and small companies obtain funding and close deals. He was also the founder of Accu-Search, a property data corporation that was sold to DataTrace in 2004 and Personality Plus, a precursor to eHarmony.com. Phil was a former editor of a UMass/Amherst humor magazine and it shows in his writing -- which is filled with colorful commentary along with very specific ideas on stock option purchases (Phil rarely holds actual stocks). Visit: Phil's Stock World (www.philstockworld.com)

© 2012 Copyright  PhilStockWorld - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

PhilStockWorld Archive

© 2005-2015 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Biggest Debt Bomb in History