May tonnage down, but still up year-over-year
Compared with May 2011, the SA index was 4.1 percent higher, the largest year-over-year increase since February 2012. (The Trucker file photo)
The Trucker News Services
ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.7 percent in May after falling 1.1 percent in April.
(April’s loss was the same as ATA reported on May 22.)
The latest drop lowered the SA index to 117.8 (2000=100), down from April’s level of 118.7. Compared with May 2011, the SA index was 4.1 percent higher, the largest year-over-year increase since February 2012.
Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage was up 3.8 percent.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 124.5 in May, which was 6.5 percent above the previous month.
“Two straight months of contractions is disappointing,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “The drops in tonnage are reflective of the broader economy, which has slowed.
“The good news is that the decrease in fuel prices will help support retail sales going forward, which is a big part of truck tonnage.”
As a negative, Costello said he’s concerned about businesses sitting on cash instead of hiring more workers or spending it on capital, both of which would give the economy and tonnage a shot in the arm, as they are worried about Europe and the so-called U.S. fiscal cliff at the end of the year.
He also reiterated last month’s comment that “Annualized tonnage growth should be in the 3 percent to 3.9 percent range this year.”
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 67.2 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods.
THE RECENT INCREASE IN FREIGHT VOLUME MEANS NEW JOB OPPORTUNITIES ON GOTRUCKERS.COM. CLICK FOR MORE DETAILS.
Trucks hauled 9 billion tons of freight in 2010.
Motor carriers collected $563.4 billion, or 81.2 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month.
The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons and key financial indicators.
The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
Find more news and analysis from The Trucker, and share your thoughts, on Facebook.