Tonnage Dispatch July 2020 5f4527a020e47

Truck Tonnage Index falls 5.1% in July

Aug. 25, 2020
Despite July's decline, the index was 3.3% above the recent low in May, ATA says, and June’s increase was revised up slightly to 8.9%

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 5.1% in July after surging 8.9% in June.

In July, the index equaled 109.6 (2015=100) compared with 115.5 in June.

“After a very strong June, for-hire contract freight tonnage, which dominates ATA’s index, slipped in July for a couple of reasons,” said Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist. “It is likely that tonnage was down because many fleets didn’t have the capacity to take advantage of stronger retail freight volumes. Therefore, much of that overflow freight moved to the spot market, which did increase in July.

“Other ATA data shows that for-hire truckload fleets are operating 3% fewer trucks this summer than a year earlier, so it can be difficult to take on a significant amount of additional freight. Also, while retail volumes have snapped back strongly, manufacturing output and international trade freight is lagging well behind.”

Despite July’s decline, the index was 3.3% above the recent low in May. June’s increase was revised up slightly to 8.9% from our July 21 press release.

Compared with July 2019, the SA index contracted 8.3%, the fourth straight year-over-year decline. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2019, tonnage is down 3.2%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.9 in July, 2.5% below the June level (115.8). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.5% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.84 billion tons of freight in 2019. Motor carriers collected $791.7 billion, or 80.4% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

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Commercial Vehicle Staff

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