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ATA Truck Tonnage Index plunged 12.2% in April

May 20, 2020
Compared to April 2019, the seasonally adjusted index contracted 11.3%, the largest year-over-year decline since early 2009.

American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index contracted 12.2% in April after increasing 0.4% in March. In April, the index equaled 104.9 (2015=100) compared with 119.5 in March.

“April’s monthly decline was the largest in 26 years when there was a labor strike in April 1994,” said ATA's Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Considering that April factory output and retail sales plummeted, the large drop in truck freight is not surprising. However, not all fleets saw large declines in April. Those hauling food for grocery stores and those involved in the online retail supply chain outperformed most other fleets. Some fleets witnessed very large declines in freight last month.”  

March’s gain was revised down to 0.4% from the 1.2% increase reported in our April 21 press release.

“These historic declines show just how much trucking was impacted by our national response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Costello. “As the nation starts taking small steps toward reopening, we should see some modest improvements in the freight market, but the size of April’s decline gives us an idea of how long the road back may be.”

Compared to April 2019, the SA index contracted 11.3%, the largest year-over-year decline since early 2009. This drop was preceded by a 3.5% year-over-year gain in March. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2019, tonnage is down 1.3%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 104.6 in April, 12.8% below the March level (120). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. 

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