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ATA reports seasonally-adjusted tonnage is up 3.9 percent annually in March

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
April 26, 2013

Truck tonnage again showed positive—albeit modest—gains in March, according to data released this week by the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

The ATA said that seasonally-adjusted (SA) truck tonnage in March rose 0.9 percent, following a 0.7 percent February dip, which was downwardly revised from a 0.6 percent gain when it was originally reported by the ATA last month).

ATA officials said that the SA has now shown gains in four of the last five reported months and is up 7.6 percent going back to November 2012. March’s SA was 123.5 (2000=100) and is up 3.8 percent compared to March 2012, ahead of February’s 3.1 percent annual spread. On a year-to-date basis, the SA is up 3.9 percent.

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, was 125.2 in March, which topped February’s 112.3 by 11.5 percent. Compared to March 2012, the NSA was up 2.0 percent.

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.

“Fitting with the expectation for solid gross domestic product growth in the first quarter, tonnage was strong in March and the quarter overall,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement. “At 3.9% year-over-year growth, the first quarter increase was the best since the final quarter 2011.Expect freight tonnage will slow in the months ahead as the federal government sequester continues and households finish spending their tax returns. The good news for tonnage is housing starts are growing and energy production is good—both of which generates heavy freight. However, these two sectors alone won’t be enough to keep the overall index growing at a 3.9 percent clip in the second quarter.”

At this week’s National Shippers Strategic Council (NASSTRAC) Annual Conference in Orlando, shippers and carriers told LM that market conditions are seasonally decent but not great by any stretch either.

Among the reasons are the employment outlook, relatively low GDP growth, and cautious consumer spending. While these factors have been intact for some time now, it has led industry stakeholders to view the freight economy as slow but steady for the most part.

About the Author

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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).


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