ATA Truck Tonnage Index rises in October 2011

Nov. 23, 2011
The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.5% in October 2011 after rising a revised 1.5% in September 2011.

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.5% in October 2011 after rising a revised 1.5% in September 2011. September’s increase was slightly less than the 1.6% gain ATA reported October 25, 2011. The latest gain put the SA index at 116.3 (2000=100) in October, up from the September level of 115.8.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 118.5 in October, which was 0.8% below the previous month.

Compared with October 2010, SA tonnage was up 5.7%. In September, the tonnage index was 5.8% above a year earlier. Further, October’s tonnage reading was just 4.4% below the index’s all-time high in January 2005.

“Tonnage readings continue to show that the economy is growing and not sliding back into recession,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “Over the last two months, tonnage is up nearly 2% and is just shy of the recent high in January of this year.”

Costello said he expects freight and the economy to increase at a slower pace next year, but that truck tonnage can outpace GDP growth.

“Manufacturing output has been the primary reason why truck freight volumes are increasing more than GDP. The industrial sector should slow next year, but still grow more than GDP, which means truck tonnage can increase faster than GDP too,” he said.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the US economy, representing 67.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9 billion tons of freight in 2010. Motor carriers collected $563.4 billion, or 81.2% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

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