ATA Truck Tonnage Index advances in April

The American Trucking Associations' advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased for the sixth time in the past seven months, gaining another 0.9% in April 2010. This followed a 0.4% increase in March. The latest improvement put the SA index at 110.2 (2000=100), which is the highest level since September 2008. Over the past seven months, the tonnage index grew a total of 6.5%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 111.3 in April, down 4.4% from the previous month.

Compared with April 2009, SA tonnage surged 9.4%, which was the fifth consecutive year-over-year gain and the largest increase since January 2005. Year-to-date, tonnage is up 6% versus the same period in 2009.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the latest tonnage reading fits with a sustained economic recovery. “Truck tonnage volumes continue to improve at a solid, yet sustainable, rate,” he said. “Tonnage is being boosted by robust manufacturing output and stronger retail sales.”

Costello also reiterated a statement from last month's release, saying: “For most fleets, freight volumes feel better than reported tonnage because the supply situation, particularly in the truckload sector, is turning quickly.”

Trucking serves as a barometer of the US economy, representing 68% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 8.8 billion tons of freight in 2009. Motor carriers collected $544.4 billion, or 81.9% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

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