The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.8% in January 2011 after rising a revised 2.5% in December 2010. This latest jump put the SA index at 117.1 (2000=100) in January, which was the highest level since January 2008. In December, the SA index equaled 112.7.
ATA recently revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 105.4 in January, down 2.9% from the previous month.
Compared with January 2010, SA tonnage climbed 8%, which was the largest year-over-year increase since April 2010. For the year 2010, tonnage was up 5.7% versus 2009.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said he was very pleased with January’s robust gain, especially considering the winter storms during the month.
“Many fleets told us that freight was solid in January, although operations were as challenge due to the winter storms that hit large parts of the country,” he said. Costello also said the latest numbers show the economy is growing at a good clip early in 2011, and he expects a solid first half of the year.
“At this point, the biggest threat is the recent run-up in oil prices, which could dampen consumer spending,” he said.
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.