July truck tonnage sees decent gains, reports ATA
August 19, 2014
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) reported today that truck tonnage in July saw decent gains.
Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in July headed up 1.3 percent on the heels of a 0.8 percent increase in June. The index came in at 130.2 (2000=100) compared to June’s 128.6 and May’s 129.6 and is off 0.6 percent from the November 2013 high of 131.0, reported the ATA. On an annual basis, the SA is up 3.6 percent, topping the 2.3 percent annual bump in June, and stands as the biggest annual gain in the last three months. Year-to-date, the SA index is up 2.9 percent compared to the first seven months of 2013.
The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, was 133.3 in July, which outpaced June’s 132.3 by 0.8 percent, and was up 2.8 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.
“After a surprising decrease in June, tonnage really snapped back in July,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement. “This gain fits more with the anecdotal reports we are hearing from motor carriers that freight volumes are good. The solid tonnage number in July fits with the strong factory output reading and a jump in housing starts for the same month. I continue to expect moderate, but good, tonnage growth for the rest of the year.”
Tonnage is up 4.9 percent after a recent low point this past January.
Industry analysts noted during second quarter earnings that overall market conditions continue to bode well for carriers, with what BB&T Capital Markets analyst Thom Albrecht recently described as “a favorable freight volume and rate environment.”
Conversely, carriers continue to deal with tight capacity and higher rates, especially on the spot market, which is benefitting from the capacity environment, as well as the driver shortage.
The ATA’s Costello said in a recent ATA video interview that he believes the economy is picking up steam, even though the U.S. GDP was only up 1.0 percent in the first quarter. But he said the second quarter GDP could come in closer to 3.5 percent (the first advance estimate was 4.0 percent) and be around 3 percent over the second half of the year. That bounce could help freight volumes in the form of tonnage or more loads.
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