American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 0.1% in January after rising 0.5% in December. In January, the index equaled 117.4 (2015=100) compared with 117.3 in December.
ATA recently revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision.
“Over the last two months, the tonnage index has increased 0.6%, which is obviously good news,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, after our annual revision, it is clear that tonnage peaked in July 2019 and, even with the recent gains, is down 1.8% since then. Softness in manufacturing and elevated inventories continue to weigh on the truck freight tonnage.”
Compared with January 2019, the SA index rose 0.8%, which was preceded by a 3.1% year-over-year gain in December. In 2019, the index was 3.3% above 2018.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 114.6 in January, 1.1% above the December level (113.3). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.
Note: ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 71.4% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.49 billion tons of freight in 2018. Motor carriers collected $796.7 billion, or 80.3% 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.