Trucking companies hauled increasingly higher volumes of freight in November, according to the American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index.
The index increased 0.3% in November after rising a revised 0.4% in October 2011. October’s increase was slightly less than the 0.5% gain ATA reported on November 22, 2011. The latest gain put the SA index at 116.6 (2000=100) in November, up from the October level of 116.3.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 115.3 in November, which was 2.6% below the previous month.
Compared with November 2010, SA tonnage was up 6.0%, the largest year-over-year gain since a 6.5% increase in June 2011. In October, the tonnage index was 5.7% above a year earlier. Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage is up 5.4%.
“As I said last month, tonnage levels continue to point to an economy that is growing, not sliding into a recession,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “Over the last three months, tonnage is up 2.3% and stands at the highest level since January of this year.”
“Two primary factors have helped truck tonnage in recent months. First, manufacturing output, which generates a significant amount of truck freight, has generally been increasing. Second, retail inventories are very lean, which is helping freight as well since retailers don’t have much excess stock and need to replenish when sales go up.” he said.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 67.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9 billion tons of freight in 2010. Motor carriers collected $563.4 billion, or 81.2% 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.