The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.7% in September 2010 after falling a revised 2.8% in August. The latest gain put the SA index at 108.7 (2000=100) in September from 106.9 in August.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.4 in September, down 0.9% from the previous month.
Compared with September 2009, SA tonnage climbed 5.1%, which was well above August’s 2.9% year-over-year gain. Year-to-date, tonnage is up 6.1% compared with the same period in 2009.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said truck tonnage over the past few months fits with an economy that is growing very slowly.
“While I am glad to report that tonnage grew in September, the fact remains that truck freight volumes leveled off over the summer and early autumn. This is a reflection of an economy that is barely growing,” he said. Costello noted again this month that the trucking industry is significantly smaller than it was prior to the recession, but as a result, is better equipped to deal with slower than normal tonnage growth.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the US economy, representing 68% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 8.8 billion tons of freight in 2009. Motor carriers collected $544.4 billion, or 81.9% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.