American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 8.7% in June after falling 1% in May. In June, the index equaled 115.3 (2015=100) compared with 106.1 in May.
“Not surprisingly, as more states lifted restrictions in June, truck tonnage was robust,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “While the gain in June was the single best month since January 2013, the solid gain was not enough to put tonnage back to pre-pandemic levels, but it is close. I am hearing good anecdotal freight reports for July, but I am concerned that freight could slow as more states reinstate restrictions due to increasing Coronavirus cases.”
May’s drop was unrevised at -1% from our June 23 press release.
Compared with June 2019, the SA index contracted 1.3%, the third straight year-over-year decline, but the smallest over that period. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2019, tonnage is down 2.4%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 115.5 in June, 5.2% above the May level (109.8). 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.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.5% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.84 billion tons of freight in 2019. Motor carriers collected $791.7 billion, or 80.4% 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.