ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 3.1 percent in January, following a revised 1.3 percent increase in December 2009.
The latest gain boosted the SA index from 107 (2000=100) in December to 110.4 in January, its highest level since September 2008. The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 99.5 in January, down 3.3 percent from the previous month.
ATA recently revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision, the industry group noted.
Compared with January 2009, SA tonnage surged 5.7 percent, which was the best year-over-year reading since January 2005 and the second consecutive increase. For all of 2009, the tonnage index was down 8.7 percent (slightly larger than the previously reported 8.3 percent drop), which was the largest annual decrease since a 12.3 percent plunge in 1982.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that the latest tonnage reading, coupled with anecdotal reports from carriers, indicates that both the industry and the economy are clearly in a recovery mode.
“While I don’t expect tonnage to continue growing as robustly as it did in January, the industry is finally moving in the right direction” Costello said. “Although there are still risks that could throw the rebound off track, the likelihood of that happening continues to diminish.”
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.
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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