ATA’s truck tonnage index rose 3.7% in November but still lagged 3.8% behind last year

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The American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.7% in November after dropping 5% in October.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.7% in November after falling 5% in October. In November, the index equaled 112.2 (2015=100) compared with 108.3 in October.

“The 2020 seesaw pattern continued in November as typical seasonality is not holding this year,” said Bob Costello, chief economist for ATA. “It was a nice gain, but the rebound was not enough to make up for October’s drop. Robust retail freight, helped by consumer spending, especially e-commerce, and very lean inventories helped truck tonnage last month. Strong single-family housing starts are also aiding freight tonnage, but lackluster restaurant, manufacturing and energy sectors remain a drag. I expect these softer industries to benefit from widespread COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021.”

October’s decrease was revised up to 5% from ATA’s preliminary figures released in late November. Compared with November 2019, the seasonally adjusted index contracted 3.8%, the eighth straight year-over-year decline. Year to date, compared with the same period in 2019, tonnage is down 3.8%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 110.5 in November, 4.7% below the October level of 116. 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.

ATA’s tonnage index is based on surveys from the association’s membership.

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