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Trucking news: ATA tonnage shows growth in June

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
July 26, 2011

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) reported today truck tonnage took a step in the right direction, snapping two months of declines, with a 2.8 percent increase in its advance seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage index in June.

This gain follows 0.6 percent and 2.0 percent declines, respectively, in April and May at a time when freight transportation volumes remain largely uneven, with freight patterns remaining largely unpredictable. The SA index is currently at 115.8 (2000=100), which is up from May’s 112.6, and represents its highest level since January.

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, checked in at 122.3 in June for a 5.3 percent sequential gain. On a year-over-year basis, SA tonnage in June was up 6.8 percent, marking its highest annual increase since January.

As LM has reported, 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.

“Motor carriers told us that freight was strong in June and that played out in the data as well,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement. “Tonnage recovered all of the losses in April and May when the index contracted a total of 2.6 percent. After growing 5.5% in the first half of the year from the same period last year, the strength of truck tonnage in the second half will depend greatly on what manufacturing output does. If manufacturing continues to grow stronger than GDP, I fully expect truck freight to do the same.”

In recent months, both shippers and carriers have explained that even though things are relatively steady in light of an uncertain economy, a good amount of the momentum occurring in the market earlier in the year has definitely lessened.

Both shippers and carriers noted that the second half of the year, coupled with how Peak Season shapes up, will go a long way in determining how things shake out in the trucking market.

An industry expert told LM that the ATA’s numbers accurately reflect what is happening in the market.

“There was a bit of a soft patch in May,” he said. “June did what it was supposed to do, which was be a good freight month as it is one of the top four freight months per calendar year. It may partly be a bit of a bounce back month, but it is also what a normal June is supposed to look like.”

About the Author

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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).

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