ARLINGTON, Va., — The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.4 percent in March, following a revised 0.3 percent decrease in February. The latest improvement put the SA index at 109.2 (2000=100), which is the highest level since November 2008.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 116.4 in March, up 19.1 percent from the previous month.
Compared with March 2009, SA tonnage jumped 7.5 percent, which was the fourth consecutive year-over-year gain and the largest increase since January 2005. For the first quarter of 2010, SA tonnage was up 4.9 percent compared with the same period last year, according to the ATA report.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that he is getting more optimistic about the motor carrier industry’s recovery.
“Freight is moving in the right direction, and I continue to hear from motor carriers that both the demand and supply situations are steadily improving,” he said.
Costello attributed the first-quarter improvement in tonnage to the growing economy and to a slight inventory build after some sectors slashed inventories by too much in 2009.
“For most fleets, freight volumes feel better than reported tonnage because the supply situation, particularly in the truckload sector, is turning quickly,” Costello said.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing nearly 69 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods, according to ATA. Trucks hauled 10.2 billion tons of freight in 2008. Motor carriers collected $660.3 billion, or 83.1 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 American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of other trucking groups, industry-related conferences, and its 50 affiliated state trucking associations, ATA represents more than 37,000 members covering every type of motor carrier in the United States.
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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