American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index in February up 5.5% year-over-year, better than January's 3.1% increase; ATA economist expects continued truck tonnage growth
March 27, 2012
– The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 0.5% in February after falling 4.6% in January. (January’s decrease was more than the preliminary 4% drop we reported on February 28th.) The latest gain put the SA index at 119.3 (2000=100), up from January’s level of 118.7. Compared with February 2011, the SA index was up 5.5%, better than January’s 3.1% increase.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.9 in February, which was 1.3% above the previous month.
“Fleets told us that February was decent and that played out in the numbers,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. Costello noted that February’s month-to-month increase was sixth in the last seven months.
“I’m still expecting continued truck tonnage growth going forward. Rising manufacturing activity and temperate consumer spending should be helped a little from an improving housing market,” he said.
To see more of Costello’s thoughts on tonnage and the economy, click here.
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.
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.
American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation’s freight. Follow ATA on Twitter or on Facebook. Good stuff. Trucks Bring It!