Truck Tonnage Index Fell 1.3% in July

By | August 24, 2011

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.3% in July after rising a revised 2.6% in June 2011. June’s increase was slightly less than the 2.8% ATA reported on July 26, 2011.  The latest pullback put the SA index at 114 (2000=100) in July, down from the June level of 115.5.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 111 in July, which was 9% below the previous month.

Compared with July 2010, SA tonnage was up 3.9%.  In June, the tonnage index was 6.5% above a year earlier.

“We had heard that freight weakened from a robust June, that that was true,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said.  Tonnage has fallen in three of the last four months on a sequential basis.

“Despite a solid June, our truck tonnage index fits with an economy that is growing very slowly,” Costello noted.  “The good news is that tonnage continues to increase on a year-over-year basis, but it is likely that the rate of growth will moderate in the second half of the year.”

Note on the impact of trucking company failures on the index: Each month, ATA asks its membership the amount of tonnage each carrier hauled, including all types of freight.  The indexes are calculated based on those responses.  The sample includes an array of trucking companies, ranging from small fleets to multi-billion dollar carriers. When a company in the sample fails, we include its final month of operation and zero it out for the following month, with the assumption that the remaining carriers pick up that freight.  As a result, it is close to a net wash and does not end up in a false increase.  Nevertheless, some carriers are picking up freight from failures and it may have boosted the index. Due to our correction mentioned above however, it should be limited.

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.

 

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