American Trucking Assns.’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index declined 0.9% in August, following a revised increase of 3.1% during July. In August, the index equaled 134.2 (2000=100), down from 135.3 in July. The all-time high of 135.8 was reached in January 2015.
Compared with August 2014, the SA index increased 2.1%, which was below the 4% gain in July. Year-to-date through August, compared with the same period last year, tonnage was up 3.3%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 137.0 in August, which was 0.5% below the previous month (137.6).
“After such a robust July, it is not too surprising that tonnage took a breather in August,” said ATA chief economist Bob Costello. “The dip after a strong gain goes with the up and down pattern we’ve seen this year.”
Costello said a few factors hurt August’s reading, including soft housing starts and falling factory output.
“As I said last month, I remain concerned about the high level of inventories throughout the supply chain. This could have a negative impact on truck freight volumes over the next few months,” he said.
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 under 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 said it 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.