The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.5 percent in September, after falling 0.8 percent in August. The not seasonally adjusted index fell 10.6 percent from August to 107.4.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the tonnage index rose to 111.6 (2000 = 100) in September. Despite September’s sequential increase, tonnage was down 2.3 percent from a year earlier. Year-to-date, the tonnage index was 2.2 percent lower than during the same period in 2006.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the September tonnage reading points to continued softness in the trucking industry, despite the month-to-month increase. Although the 1.5-percent gain was the biggest monthly increase since February of this year, Costello noted that he expects tonnage to remain choppy in the foreseeable future, a trend that started a couple of months ago.
“Nearly all economic indicators suggest continued sluggishness for the trucking industry in the near term,” Costello said. September’s reading points to a lackluster 2007 fall freight season, which traditionally starts in mid to late August and peaks in October. “We are sticking with our economic forecasts that point to below trend growth for the overall economy and truck tonnage.”
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy because it represents nearly 70 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods.
Trucks hauled 10.7 billion tons of freight in 2005. Motor carriers collected $623 billion, or 84.3 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.