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ATA tonnage index increases 2.7% in November

Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2012, tonnage is up 5.8 percent. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services


ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.7 percent in November after falling 1.9 percent in October.

October’s decrease was less than the preliminary drop of 2.8 percent ATA reported on Nov. 19, 2013.

In November, the index equaled 128.5 (2000=100) versus 125.1 in October.  November’s level is a record high.  Compared with November 2012, the SA index surged 8.1 percent, which is down from October’s 9 percent surge, but still very robust, the ATA said.

Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2012, tonnage is up 5.8 percent. 

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 122.4 in November, which is 8.8 percent below the previous month (134.2). 

“Tonnage snapped back in November, which fits with several other economic indicators,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Assuming that December isn’t weak, tonnage growth this year will be more than twice the gain in 2012.”

Tonnage increased 2.3 percent in 2012.  Costello noted tonnage accelerated in the second half of the year, indicating that the economy is likely stronger some might believe. 

“Still, truck tonnage continues to be supported by fast growing sectors of the economy that generate heavy freight loads, like residential construction, fracking for oil and natural gas, and auto production,” Costello said.

Each month, the ATA asks its membership the amount of tonnage each carrier hauled, including all types of freight.  The indexes are calculated based on those responses.  The sample includes an array of trucking companies, ranging from small fleets to multi-billion dollar carriers. When a company in the sample fails, we include its final month of operation and zero it out for the following month, with the assumption that the remaining carriers pick up that freight.  As a result, it is close to a net wash and does not end up in a false increase.  Nevertheless, some carriers are picking up freight from failures and it may have boosted the index. Due to our correction mentioned above however, it should be limited.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 68.5 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9.4 billion tons of freight in 2012.  Motor carriers collected $642.1 billion, or 80.7 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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