Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!

ATA seasonally-adjusted truck tonnage index up in July

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
August 25, 2010

Following two consecutive months of declines, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) said that its advance seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage index was up 1.5 percent in July.

This is the seventh time in the past ten recorded months that the SA has increased. And it follows a revised 0.1 (from 0.6) percent decline in May and a revised 1.6 percent (from 1.4) percent decline in June. July’s SA index was 110 (2000=100) compared to 108.3 in July.

And with the SA up on a sequential basis for the first time in three months, the ATA said that the July SA was up 7.4 percent year-over-year for the eight straight monthly annual gain, albeit these comparisons are up against a challenging 2009. The 7.4 percent year-over-year uptick is in line with 7.7 and 7.6 bumps in May and June, respectively.

The ATA also reported that its not seasonally-adjusted index (NSA), which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, fell to 109.9 in July for a 5 percent decline from June. This drop-off in the NSA halts the sequential NSA gains seen in May and June and somewhat quells the momentum of a steadily-recovering market, which had been evidenced to a degree over the majority of the first half of 2010.

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.

Earlier this summer, many shippers, carriers and analysts told LM they were optimistic about the trucking market, especially when comparing it to 2009. But since then there have been various economic reports, including today’s durable goods orders report from the Department of Commerce, which noted orders were less than anticipated in July, with a 0.3 percent gain along with another Commerce report that indicated new home sales in July to an annual level of 276,000—the lowest level since data was first collected in the early 1960s.

Other signs of a slowing economy are also evident, with unemployment still high, retail sales down, and consumer confidence falling. These factors all have the potential to bring tonnage growth down in the coming months.

“The economy is slowing and truck freight tonnage has essentially gone sideways since April 2010,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement. “After accounting for the reduction in supply over the last few years, even small gains in tonnage will have a larger impact on the industry than in the past.”

Another factor impacting trucking volumes is tight capacity. Last month, Costello said with trucking capacity remaining tight because of trucking market supply tightness, tonnage growth for fleets feels better than expected.

Despite the myriad challenges in the trucking market, an executive at a large carrier company told LM that demand at his company continues to hold up relatively well.

“Shippers are clearly interested in securing capacity,” said the executive. “They’re taking steps to ensure they have the resources they need from their key carriers, particularly as we approach the higher-volume seasonal shipping months.” 

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, because it represents 68 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods, according to the ATA. The ATA notes that it hauled 8.8 billion tons of freight in 2009, and that motor carriers collected $544.4 billion-or 81.9 percent-of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

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

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in October at 135.7 (2000=100) was up 1.9 percent compared to September’s 133.1, and the ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment was 139.8 in October, which was 0.9 percent ahead of September.

The average price per gallon of diesel gasoline fell 3.7 cents to $2.445 per gallon, according to data issued today by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). This marks the lowest weekly price for diesel since June 1, 2009, when it was at $2.352 per gallon.

In its report, entitled “Grey is the new Black,” JLL takes a close look at supply chain-related trends that can influence retailers’ approaches to Black Friday.

This year, it's all about the digital supply network. In this virtual conference, we will define the challenges currently facing supply chain organizations and offer solutions designed to transform linear operations into dynamic, automated networks that offer seamless communication, visibility, and the ability to respond and optimize processes at any given time.

In his opening comments assessing the economy at last week’s RailTrends conference hosted by Progressive Railroading magazine and independent railroad analyst Tony Hatch, FTR Senior analyst Larry Gross said the economy continues to slog ahead at a relatively tepid pace, coupled with some volatility in terms of overall GDP growth. And amid that slogging, Gross said there is currently an economic hand-off occurring between the industrial sector and the consumer sector.


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