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

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported this week that U.S. trade with its North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico increased 8.2 percent from September 2013 to September 2014 at $102.2 billion.

NS said that the D&H lines it plans to acquire connect with the NS network at Sunbury, Pa. and Binghamton, N.Y. and give NS single-line routes from Chicago and the southeast U.S. to Albany, N.Y., which is in close proximity to NS’ Mechanicville, N.Y.-based intermodal terminal.

This follows a 1.6 cent decrease last week, which was preceded by a 5.4 gain the week before and stands as the first increase going back to the week of June 23, when the weekly average headed up 3.7 cents to $3.919 per gallon.

BNSF said that its 2015 capital expenditures will be allocated towards various areas of its business, including maintenance and expansion of the railroad to meet the expected demand for freight rail service, with 2015 representing the third straight year BNSF has invested a record annual capital expenditures investment.

While the ongoing labor negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) ostensibly going from bad to worse, following the ILWU’s announcement late last week that it was halting negotiations from November 20 through November 30, a Congressional group last week penned a letter to PMA and ILWU leadership expressing concern over the state of the negotiations.

Comments

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


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA