ATA reports seasonally adjusted tonnage is up 0.4 percent in September and 2.4 percent annually

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
October 23, 2012 - LM Editorial

Trucking volumes in 2012 can mostly be summed up in one word: flat. That is the major takeaway of September data released by the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

The ATA reported that seasonally-adjusted (SA) truck tonnage in September—at 118.7 (2000=100) was up 0.4 percent after declining 0.9 percent in August on the heels of a flat July and June, which was up 1.2 percent compared to May, representing the largest month-to-month increase in 2012 year-to-date. SA tonnage was down 1.0 percent in May.

Compared to September 2011, September SA tonnage was up2.4 percent, which ATA said represents the lowest annual increase since December 2009. Through the first nine months of 2011, the ATA said SA tonnage is up 3.6 percent.

The ATA added that during the third quarter, SA tonnage increased 0.4% from the previous quarter and 3.4% from the same quarter in 2011.

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, fell 9 percent from August to September at 115.3. This represents a 4.2 decrease from September 2011.

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.

“The year-over-year deceleration in tonnage continued during September, although I was encouraged that the seasonally adjusted index edged higher from August,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement. “Expect year-over-year comparisons to continue shrinking through the rest of the year as tonnage grew nicely during the last three months of 2011,” noting that he expects to tonnage to increase less than 3.5 percent this year.

What’s more, Costello explained that the acceleration in housing starts, which is helping truck tonnage, is being countered by a flattening in manufacturing output and elevated inventories throughout the supply chain.

As previously reported in recent months, this tonnage data comes at a time when various mixed economic signals remain intact, including flattish retail sales numbers for the majority of 2012 and a slowdown in manufacturing output in recent months, among others.

Various shippers and carrier have repeatedly told LM that volumes remain in a holding pattern to a certain degree, with no real positive indications that things will change soon.

But the news is not all bleak as housing starts are up and freight flows appear to be solid on an anecdotal basis as holiday shopping season approaches. The uptick in B2C and increasing e-commerce-related shopping activity could also have a net positive effect on trucking volumes, according to various industry stakeholders.

BB&T Capital Markets analyst Thom Albrecht wrote in a recent research note that while “U.S. freight volumes, in general, have been sloppy or even mediocre since early June, they have been reasonably steady even if below seasonal expectations.”



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

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 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.

Volumes for the month of July at the Port of Long Beach (POLB) and the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) were mixed, according to data recently issued by the ports. Unlike May and June, which saw higher than usual seasonal volumes, due to the West Coast port labor situation, July was down as retailers had completed filling inventories for back-to-school shopping.

With a 0.8 cent decrease, this week’s average price per gallon is $3.835 and stands as the lowest price since hitting $3.844 the week of November 25, 2013.

LTL carriers are rapidly investing in expensive, on-dock, three-dimensional size measurement capturing machinery, and they are hoping one day of being able to more accurately charge shippers rates based on the actual dimensions of their shipments, rather than the traditional weight-and-distance-based formula that has been in effect since the 1930s or even earlier.

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) recently reported that its Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) dipped 0.9 percent from May to June.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, 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.

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