The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.1% in August, matching July’s increase of the same magnitude.
The latest gain raised the SA index to 104.1 (2000=100), which was the best reading since February 2009. The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 105.8 in August, down 0.5% from July.
Compared with August 2008, SA tonnage fell 7.5%, which was the best year-over-year showing since November 2008.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that the latest increase was another positive sign for the industry. “The gains in tonnage during July and August reflect a growing economy and less of an overhang in inventories,” Costello said. He is hopeful that the overall trend in truck tonnage during the months ahead will be upward; however, he acknowledged that the pace of increase will likely moderate from the cumulative 4.3% gain over the past two months.
“While I am optimistic that the worst is behind us, most economic indicators, including industrial output and household spending, suggest freight tonnage will exhibit moderate, and probably inconsistent, growth in the months ahead,” Costello said.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the US economy, representing nearly 69% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods.