Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


ATA March tonnage shows positive momentum

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
April 27, 2011

Coming off of its first monthly decline in three months in February, truck tonnage returned to growth mode in March, according to data released by the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

The ATA’s advance seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage index rose 1.7 percent in March after dipping a revised 2.7 percent in February. This index was up 3.8 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, in January and December.

The current SA index is 115.4 (2000=100) in March, following February’s 117.1, which the ATA said was its highest level since January 2008. The SA index was up 6.3 percent compared to March 2010. This outpaced February’s 4.4 percent hike but lagged behind January’s 7.6 percent increase.

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, was 123.3 in March, which was up 20.7 percent from February’s 102.6. On an annual basis, the SA was up 6.9 percent from March 2010’s 116.4.

As LM has reported, some industry analysts maintain that the not seasonally-adjusted index is more useful, because it is comprised of what truckers haul. As defined by the ATA, the not seasonally-adjusted index is assembled by adding up all the monthly tonnage data reported by the survey respondents (ATA member carriers) for the latest two months. Then a monthly percent change is calculated and then applied to the index number for the first month.

“Despite my concern that higher energy costs are going to begin cutting into consumer spending, tonnage levels were pretty good in March and the first quarter of the year,” said ATA Chief Economist and Vice President Bob Costello in a statement. “While I still think the industry will continue to grow and recover from the weak freight environment we’ve seen in recent years, the rapid spike in fuel prices will slow that growth.” 

And as long as U.S. manufacturing remains at a high level, Costello said that will be a positive for truck tonnage.

Today’s numbers from the Department of Commerce portend a positive trend for the shipment of manufactured goods. Commerce reported that March new orders for manufactured goods rose 2.5% to $208.4 billion, and shipments increased 1.8% to $207.3 billion. 

At last week’s NASSTRAC Logistics Conference and Expo in Orlando, Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Jon Langenfeld told an audience largely comprised of shippers and carriers that the bulk of the economic recovery which is occurring is being led by strong manufacturing activity.

“This is an industrial-led recovery,” said Langenfeld. “We are still seeing high unemployment and capacity remains tight. But the manufacturing base is improving. There is a lot of freight moving on the industrial side in the near-term as it relates to demand. 

Carriers have repeatedly told LM that the current market outlook is “slow but steady” and is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future.

“Things are good but not great by any stretch,” a shipper told LM at NASSTRAC. “That said, we are heading in the right direction but are concerned about what is happening with fuel and consumer spending.”

For related articles, please click here.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Last week, the United States Department of Transportation took further steps to address various issues identified in recent train accidents involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail. The announcement was made by DOT with other DOT agencies, including the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Logistics Management Group News Editor Jeff Berman had an opportunity to interview Derek Leathers, President and Chief Operating Officer of Werner Enterprises, at this month's NASSTRAC Shippers Conference and Transportation Expo in Orlando. They discussed various aspects of the truckload market, including prices, fuel, and regulations.

During this webcast our presenters will apply the findings of the 23rd Annual Trends & Issues in Transportation and Logistics Study to the world of shipper-carrier decision making. They'll examine the primary aspects that will influence the future direction for shipper-carrier decision-making.

For February, the month for which most recent data is available, the SCI dropped to -1.0 from January’s 2.6, with FTR explaining that the short term positive impact from one-time adjustments for rapidly dropping diesel prices and the suspension of the 2013 motor carriers hours-of-service expires later this year.

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in March was up 1.1 percent on the heels of a revised 2.8 percent (from 3.1 percent) February decline, with the SA index at 133.5 (2000=100). This is off 0.3 percent from the all-time high for the SA of 135.8 from January 2015 and is up 5 percent annually.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA