American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index was down 0.2% in February after increasing 2.5% in January. In February, the index equaled 117.4 (2015=100) compared with 117.6 in January.
“After a strong January, I’m a pleasantly surprised that the index didn’t fall much last month,” said ATA chief economist Bob Costello. “I continue to expect tonnage to moderate like other indicators, including retail sales, manufacturing activity and housing starts. Additionally, the level of inventories throughout the supply chain have increased, which is a drag on truck freight.”
January’s reading was revised up slightly compared with their February press release.
Compared with February 2018, the SA index increased 5.4%, down from January’s 5.8% gain. In 2018, the index increased 6.7% over 2017, which was the largest annual gain since 1998.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 106.9 in February, which is 5.7% below January’s level (113.3). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% 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 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.