January truck tonnage takes a weather-influenced step back, reports ATA

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) truck tonnage in January dropped 4.3 percent, following a 0.8 percent drop in December, and the not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment was 122.3 in January.

By ·

Difficult winter weather conditions played a significant role in January truck tonnage, according to data released by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) today.

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) truck tonnage in January dropped 4.3 percent, following a 0.8 percent drop in December. The index was at 124.4 (2000=100), and the all-time high was November’s 131.0, which was 2.7 percent better than December. On an annual basis, the January SA was up 1.2 percent.

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment was 122.3 in January, down 0.3 percent from December’s 122.7 and was down .01 percent 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.

“Like most economic indicators, truck tonnage was negatively impacted by bad winter weather in January,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement. “The thing about truck freight is that it’s difficult to catch up. Drivers are governed by hours-of-service regulations and trucks are limited to trailer lengths and total weights, thus it is nearly impossible to recoup the days lost due to bad storms. January wasn’t just one storm, it was several across a large part of the country. Therefore, I wouldn’t panic from the largest monthly drop in two years. I’ve heard from many fleets that freight was good, in-between storms. The fundamentals for truck freight still look good.”

Weather aside, many shippers and carriers indicate that things are moving along as expected when viewing the market on a seasonal basis.

But they concede that such atypical weather patterns are making an imprint on supply chain operations, with far more contingency and capacity planning being required than normal.

Morgan Stanley analyst Bill Greene said in a research note that the underperformance in the NSA index reflects a tough sequential comp and severe weather conditions, adding that truckload carriers suggest underlying freight fundamentals remain solid.


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 · Trucking · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
The View from the New “Single Window”
The single window, officially known as the "International Trade Data System," operates via the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency's Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) platform, and serves as a single point of contact for all trade filings.
Download Today!
From the March 2017 Issue
WMS vendors are stepping up to the plate and developing functionalities and solutions that meet the complex needs of today’s companies. Our top analysts take a peek into these developments and discuss the DC of the future and the software that will support it.
5 Supply Chain Trends Happening Now
2017 Warehouse/DC Equipment Survey: Investment up as service pressures rise
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2017 Trucking Regulations & Infrastructure Update
In this session our panel brings shippers up to date on the state of transportation regulations. Discussion will revolve around regulatory reform, aspects of the federal highway bill and what the transportation landscape looks like in the early days of the Trump administration.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...
ASEAN Logistics: Building Collectively
While most of the world withdraws inward, Southeast Asia is practicing effective cooperation between...

2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?
Trade and transport analysts see a turnaround in last year’s negative market outlook, but as...
Logistics Management’s Top Logistics News Stories 2016
From mergers and acquisitions to regulation changes, Logistics Management has compiled the most...