American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.5% in June, following a revised gain of 0.8% during May. In June, the index equaled 131.1 (2000=100). The all-time high of 135.8 was reached in January 2015.
Compared with June 2014, the SA index increased 1.8%, which was above the 1.5% gain in May. Year-to-date through June, compared with the same period last year, tonnage was up 3.4%.
During the second quarter, the SA index fell 1.7% from the first quarter but increased 2% from the same quarter in 2014.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 138.2 in June, which was 4.2% above the previous month (132.7).
“With flat factory output and falling retail sales, I’m not surprised tonnage was soft in June,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “I also remain concerned over the elevated inventory-to-sales ratio for retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers, which suggests soft tonnage in the months ahead until the ratio falls.
“I remain hopeful that the inventory correction will transpire this summer. When the correction ends, truck freight – helped by better personal consumption – will accelerate,” he added.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 68.8% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled just less than 10 billion tons of freight in 2014. Motor carriers collected $700.4 billion, or 80.3% 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.