Truck tonnage plummeted 5.1% in July after seeing encouraging 8.9% surge in June

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According to American Trucking Association’s advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index for July, the index dropped to 109.6 compared to 115.5 in June.

ARLINGTON, Va. — American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 5.1% in July after surging 8.9% in June, the association said today (Aug. 18). In July, the index equaled 109.6 (2015=100) compared with 115.5 in June.

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“After a very strong June, for-hire contract freight tonnage, which dominates ATA’s index, slipped in July for a couple of reasons,” said Bob Costello, chief economist for ATA.

“It is likely that tonnage was down because many fleets didn’t have the capacity to take advantage of stronger retail freight volumes. Therefore, much of that overflow freight moved to the spot market, which did increase in July,” he noted. “Other ATA data shows that for-hire truckload fleets are operating 3% fewer trucks this summer than a year earlier, so it can be difficult to take on a significant amount of additional freight. Also, while retail volumes have snapped back strongly, manufacturing output and international trade freight is lagging well behind.”

Despite July’s decline, the index was still 3.3% above the recent low in May. June’s increase was revised up slightly to 8.9% from ATA’s July 21 press release. Compared with July 2019, the seasonally adjusted index contracted 8.3%, the fourth straight year-over-year decline. Year to date, compared with the same period in 2019, tonnage is down 3.2%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.9 in July, 2.5% below the June level of 115.8. 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 calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons and key financial indicators.

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