American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.4% in November to 118.9 from October’s level of 118.4.
“The fact that tonnage rose in November after a strong October is impressive. It was likely due to some continued pull forward of shipments from China due to the threat of higher tariffs, as well as solid retail sales last month,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “With continued strength in November, tonnage growth is on pace to be the best year since 1998.”
October’s change over the previous month was revised down to +5% (+6.3% was originally reported in our press release on November 20).
Compared with November 2017, the SA index increased 7.6%, down slightly from October’s 8.1% year-over-year increase. Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage increased 7.2%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 119 in November, which was 3.1% below the previous month (122.8). 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 10th day of the month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons and key financial indicators.