Thursday, April 26, 2018

ATA tonnage index up 2.1% in November; 2nd straight monthly gain


Monday, January 25, 2010
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says the robust numbers for the last two months of 2009 were aided by better economic growth as well as a positive inventory effect. (Courtesy ATA)
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says the robust numbers for the last two months of 2009 were aided by better economic growth as well as a positive inventory effect. (Courtesy ATA)

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted  For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index climbed 2.1 percent in December, following a 2.6 percent increase in November.

The latest gain boosted the SA index from 106.2 (2000=100) in November to 108.4 in December, its 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 103 in December, up 2.3 percent from the previous month. 

Compared with December 2008,seasonally adjusted tonnage jumped 6.6 percent, which was the first year-over-year increase since September 2008.

For all of 2009, the tonnage index was down 8.3 percent, which was the largest annual decrease since a 12.3 percent plunge in 1982.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that while tonnage jumped again on a month-to-month basis, the rate of increase may slow in the coming months.

“The robust tonnage numbers in November and December were aided by better economic growth as well as a positive inventory effect,” Costello said.  “However, economic activity is expected to moderate in the current quarter, which will keep a lid on tonnage growth.”

Costello also addressed the year-over-year gain in tonnage, the first in over a year.

“While the index was moving toward positive year-over-year readings in recent months, December’s gain was due, in part, to a 7.8 percent plunge a year earlier,” he said. “There is no doubt that the industry is moving the right direction, but the level of freight will not be as strong as the year-over-year increases suggest because of how terrible it was in late 2008 and much of 2009.”

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.

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 to comment on this article at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

 

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