American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 1.9% in July after decreasing 0.5% in June, which ATA revised from the originally reported 0.4%. In July, the index equaled 115 (2015=100), up from 112.8 in June.
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 while motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
“Truck freight remained very strong in July when accounting for normal seasonality,” said ATA chief economist Bob Costello.
Compared with July 2017, the SA index jumped 8.6%, up from June’s 7.7% year-over-year increase. Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage increased 8%, far outpacing the annual gain of 3.8% in 2017.
The non-seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 114.6 in July, which was 1.2% below the previous month (116.1).
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.
“Both the month-to-month and year-over-year gains were the largest in three months. This robust growth stems from solid manufacturing, retail sales, and construction activity,” added Costello. “The industry’s biggest challenge isn’t finding enough freight but recruiting and retaining quality drivers.”