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ATA: Tonnage declined in December but up for 2017

Jan. 23, 2018
Trade group’s chief economist remains “optimistic” truck tonnage will keep growing this year.

Though the American Trucking Associations (ATA) said its for-hire truck tonnage index decreased in December last year – the first time the index registered a decline in four months – truck tonnage overall in 2017 eclipsed 2016’s volume and remains on a positive growth track for 2018.

In December, tonnage dipped 5.7% according to ATA’s data, which also revised its November numbers down to a 2.1% gain from the previously reported 2.3% increase.

However, for 2017 as a whole, tonnage was up 3.7% compared to 2016, which the trade group said was the largest annual year-over-year increase in tonnage since 2013’s gain of 6.1% versus 2015.

“Despite the decline in December, last year was a solid year for truck tonnage, especially during the second half of 2017,” said Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist, in a statement.

“I remain optimistic for 2018 for a host of reasons, including a pick-up in factory activity, better housing construction, solid retail sales, and an expected shot in the arm from the new tax law,” he added.

That outlook dovetails with other positive economic projections, notably from the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, which noted in its January Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI) that overall confidence in the equipment finance market is 75.3 in January, an increase from 69.4 in December, and the highest level since the index was launched in 2009.

That group added that 61.3% of its survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months – an increase from 42.9% in December -- with 38.7% indicating the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the that time period.

None believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, unchanged from the survey’s December findings, the Foundation said.

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