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

By Jeff Berman · February 19, 2014

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
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
Reduce Order Processing Costs by 80%
Sales order automation software will seamlessly transform inbound emailed and printed purchase orders into electronic sales orders that can be automatically processed into your ERP system with 100% accuracy.
Download Today!
From the June 2016 Issue
In the wildly unstable ocean cargo carrier arena, three major consortia are fighting for market share, with some players simply hanging on for survival. Meanwhile, shippers may expect deployment shifts as a consequence of the Panama Canal expansion.
WMS Update: What do we need to run a WMS?
Supply Chain Software Convergence: Synchronization Realized
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Optimizing Global Transportation: How NVOCCs Can Use Technology to Operate More Profitably
Global transportation isn't getting any easier to manage, especially for non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs). Faced with uncertainties like surcharges—but needing to remain competitive when bidding against other providers—NVOCCs need the right mix of historical data, data intelligence, and technology support to make quick and effective decisions. During this webcast you'll learn how Bolloré Transport & Logistics was able to streamline its global logistics and automate contract management.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Details Key to Cross-border Ease
Ever-changing regulations are making it risky for U.S. companies engaged in cross-border trade...
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