ATA September 2012 Truck Tonnage Index rises

Oct. 24, 2012
The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.4% in September 2012 after falling 0.9% in August.

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.4% in September 2012 after falling 0.9% in August. In September, the SA index equaled 118.7 (2000=100). The level in September was the same as in January 2012, so the index has been on a flat trend-line over the past nine months.

Compared with September 2011, the SA index was 2.4% higher, the smallest year-over-year increase since December 2009. Year-to-date, versus the same period in 2011, tonnage was up 3.6%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 115.3 in September 2012, which was 9% below the previous month.

During the third quarter, SA tonnage increased 0.4% from the previous quarter and 3.4% from the same quarter in 2011.

“The year-over-year deceleration in tonnage continued during September, although I was encouraged that the seasonally adjusted index edged higher from August,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. He noted again that the acceleration in housing starts, which is helping truck tonnage, is being countered by a flattening in manufacturing output and elevated inventories throughout the supply chain.

“Expect year-over-year comparisons to continue shrinking through the rest of the year as tonnage grew nicely during the last three months of 2011,” he said. As a result, tonnage is expected to increase less than 3.5% in 2012.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the US economy, representing 67% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9.2 billion tons of freight in 2011. Motor carriers collected $603.9 billion, or 80.9% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

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