This article was originally featured in Insurance Networking News.
With nearly one-third of 2015 under our belts, it’s a good time to step back and understand what the results for the first part of 2015 might tell us about the rest of the year.
Consumers on the Road Again
The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent in April 2015 – its lowest rate in seven years. Job growth fell in March 2015 to 85,000 new jobs after 13 of the last 14 months saw increases of 200,000 or more, but then rose again in April to 223,000.
First quarter U.S. GDP growth was very slow at an estimated 0.2 percent as another deep freeze impacted many parts of the U.S., and the West Coast port strike choked off supplies to many manufacturers and retailers.
Gas prices remain low, and the rolling twelve month total distance driven on all roads in the U.S. was 0.6 percent above the peak last seen in November 2007. The number of vehicles on the road in the U.S. is also growing again as consumers are buying more vehicles, and fewer vehicles are being retired (scrappage rates in CY 2014 as a percent of new vehicle registrations fell to 67.5 percent – its lowest rate for ten years).
If these two figures however grow at the same rate, there may be little change in the distance driven per person/driver/household/vehicle which all peaked in the early 1990’s according to research from Michael Sivak, UMTRI.