WASHINGTON — American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1% in November after increasing 0.8% in October. In November, the index equaled 113.7 (2015=100) compared with 114.9 in October.
“We continued to see a choppy 2023 for truck tonnage into November,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “It seems like every time freight improves, it takes a step back the following month. While year-over-year comparisons are improving, unfortunately, the freight market remains in a recession. Looking ahead, with retail inventories falling, we should see less of a headwind for retail freight, but I’m also not expecting a surge in freight levels in the coming months.”
October’s gain was revised down slightly from our Nov. 21 news release.
Compared with November 2022, the SA index fell 1.2%, which was the ninth straight year-over-year decrease. In October, the index was down 2.4% from a year earlier.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 113.2 in November, 5.1% below the October level (119.3). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.6% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.46 billion tons of freight in 2022. Motor carriers collected $940.8 billion, or 80.7% 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 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.