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ATA Truck Tonnage jumps 1.2 percent in June; down in 2Q

Compared with June 2011, the SA index was 3.2 percent higher, the smallest year-over-year increase since March 2012. For the second quarter, the SA index was off 0.8 percent from the previous quarter, which was the first decrease in a year.

The Trucker News Services

7/25/2012

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.2 percent in June after falling 1 percent in May. (May’s loss was larger than the 0.7 percent drop ATA reported on June 19.)

June’s increase was the largest month-to-month gain in 2012. However, the index contracted a total of 2.1 percent in April and May.

The latest gain increased the SA index to 119.0 (2000=100), up from May’s level of 117.5. Compared with June 2011, the SA index was 3.2 percent higher, the smallest year-over-year increase since March 2012.

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Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage was up 3.7 percent.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 123.0 in June, which was 0.9 percent below the previous month. 

For the second quarter, the SA index was off 0.8 percent from the previous quarter, which was the first decrease in a year. Compared with the second quarter in 2011, the index was up 3.5 percent.

“June’s increase was a pleasant surprise, but the lower year-over-year gain fits with an economy that has slowed,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “Manufacturing output was strong in June, which helped tonnage levels.”

Costello said he’s still 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 U.S. fiscal cliff at the end of the year.  

Costello lowered his tonnage outlook for 2012 to the 3 percent to 3.5 percent range due to recent economic weakness. 

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 67 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods, according to ATA. Trucks hauled 9.2 billion tons of freight in 2011. Motor carriers collected $603.9 billion, or 80.9 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. 

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

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