Freight volumes quotsoftquot due to an inventory overhang throughout the supply chain ATA added Photo by Sean KilcarrFleet Owner

Freight volumes "soft" due to an inventory overhang throughout the supply chain, ATA added. (Photo by Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner)

ATA: Tonnage drops 4.5% in March

Freight economy “continues to be mixed,” trade group says.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) said its for-hire truck tonnage index declined 4.5% in March after a 7.2% “surge” in February. Year-to-date, however, tonnage is up 3.9% compared to the same time period in 2015, noted Bob Costello, the trade group’s chief economist.

That 4.5% decrease is also the largest monthly contraction in the ATA’s index since September of 2012, when tonnage slipped 5.3%, the group added.

“As expected, tonnage came back to earth in March from the jump in February,” Costello said in a statement. “These things tend to correct, and March took back more than half of the surprisingly large gain in February.”

He added that “the freight economy continues to be mixed,” with housing and consumer spending generally driving tonnage increases, while declines in new fracking activity and factory output are reducing demand.

“In addition, freight volumes are softer than the overall economy because of the current inventory overhang throughout the supply chain,” Costello pointed out.

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