ATA Truck Tonnage Index Drops 3.8% in October

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 3.8% in October after falling 0.4% in September. (The 0.4% decrease in September was revised from a 0.1% gain ATA reported on October 23, 2012.)

October’s drop was the third consecutive totaling 4.7%. As a result, the SA index equaled 113.7 (2000=100) in October, the lowest level since May 2011. Compared with October 2011, the SA index was off 2.1%, the first year-over-year decrease since November 2009. Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage was up 2.9%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 123.7 in October, which was 7.7% above the previous month.

“Clearly Hurricane Sandy negatively impacted October’s tonnage reading,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “However, it is impossible for us to determine the exact impact.”

Costello noted that a large drop in fuel shipments into the affected area likely put downward pressure on October’s tonnage level since fuel is heavy freight, in addition to reductions in other freight.

“I’d expect some positive impact on truck tonnage as the rebuilding starts in the areas impacted by Sandy, although that boost may only be modest in November and December,” he said. “Excluding the Hurricane impacts, I still think truck tonnage is decelerating along with factory output and consumer spending on tangible-goods.”

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