ATA reports 3.4 percent annual gain in seasonally-adjusted tonnage

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in May rose 1.0 percent, and compared to a year ago, the May SA was up 3.4 percent for its second-highest annual gain of 2014.

By ·

Truck tonnage took steady and measured steps in the right direction in May, according to data issued by the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in May rose 1.0 percent, following a 0.9 percent gain in April. The index was at 129.7 (2000=100) compared to 124.1 in May compared to April’s 128.3 and was below the all-time high of 131.0 in November by about 1 percent. Compared to a year ago, the May SA was up 3.4 percent for its second-highest annual gain of 2014, with April’s 4.2 percent annual bump the highest, and on a year-to-date basis SA tonnage is up 2.9 percent.

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment came was 133 in May, up 1.8 percent over April’s 130.7 and was 0.03 percent higher annually.

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.

“I’m pleased at the direction of freight, highlighted by May’s fourth consecutive gain in tonnage totaling 4.5 percent,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement.
“While the year-to-date improvement is running behind last year’s robust 6.3 percent increase, gains this year are more broad-based,” he said. “It isn’t just heavy freight for sectors like tank truck and flatbed from energy and housing that are improving this year. Now, generic dry van trailer freight is doing better as well, which wasn’t the case in 2013. This is a good sign for the economy.”

Costello added in an ATA video interview that he believes the economy is picking up steam, even though the U.S. GDP was only up 1.0 percent in the first quarter. But he said the second quarter GDP could come in closer to 3.5 percent and be around 3 percent over the second half of the year. That bounce could help freight volumes in the form of tonnage or more loads.

“If you look at the year overall, it won’t be as good as last year, because the first quarter was just so tough, but that is somewhat misleading as the current quarter and second half of the year are going to be very nice and that is going to help truck freight volumes,” explained Costello. 

BB&T Capital Markets Analyst Thom Albrecht wrote in a research note that freight remains fairly busy, but the month of May was more pedestrian compared to the often chaotic descriptions from mid-November through April.

“As several shippers told us, capacity feels balanced, neither tight nor loose. Carriers remain very firm on pricing during bids and/or renewals,” he stated. “We heard several times that in the days before and during Memorial weekend that capacity was orderly, with minimal service failures. Several told us they were braced for a very challenging holiday weekend and it went smoother than in several years. This suggests freight flows and assets are in sync.”


About the Author

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. Contact Jeff Berman

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!

Article Topics

ATA · Tonnage · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Managing Global Transportation: How NVOCCs can operate more profitably
Global transportation isn’t getting any easier to manage. With new rules and regulations to learn, new compliance requirements to adhere to, and new customers and business partners to onboard, navigating the complexities of the global market can be difficult for any company. To fully leverage their global supply chains, firms need a robust, global transportation management system that helps them navigate this ever-changing environment.
Download Today!
From the July 2016 Issue
While it’s currently a shippers market, the authors of this year’s report contend that we’ve entered a “period of transition” that will usher in a realignment of capacity, lower inventories, economic growth and “moderately higher” rates. It’s time to tighten the ties that bind.
2016 State of Logistics: Third-party logistics
2016 State of Logistics: Ocean freight
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Getting the most out of your 3PL relationship
Join Evan Armstrong, president of Armstrong & Associates, as he explains how creating a balanced portfolio of "Top 50" global and domestic partners can maximize efficiency and mitigate risk.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Regional ports concentrate on growth and connectivity
With the Panama Canal expansion complete, ocean cargo gateways in the Caribbean are investing to...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....

Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...
Port of Oakland launches smart phone apps for harbor truckers
Innovation uses Bluetooth, GPS to measure how long drivers wait for cargo