American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 6.1% in May after jumping 7% in April. In May, the index equaled 114 (2015=100) compared with 121.4 in April.
“As expected, tonnage corrected in May from the surprising surge in April,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The economy is still growing, but the recent volatility in truck tonnage fits with a broader economy that is showing more mixed signals. The good news is if you ignore recent highs and lows, tonnage appears to be leveling off, albeit at a high level.”
April’s reading was revised down compared with the May figures.
Compared with May 2018, the SA index increased 0.9%, the smallest year-over-year gain since April 2017.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 119.1 in May, 1.5% above April level (117.4). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% 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.