February truck tonnage data issued earlier today by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) saw continued gains.
The ATA’s advanced Seasonally Adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index, for February, came in at 118.4 (2015=100), for a 1.2% increase, over January’s 117 reading. January was up 0.6% over December to start 2023. And December was up 0.4% gain over November. Calendar year 2022 tonnage rose 3.4%, marking the highest annual increase going back to 2018.
On an annual basis, the February SA was up 2.3%, marking the 18th consecutive annual gain, and its largest one going back to October 2022. This topped January’s 1.4% annual SA gain, with calendar year 2022 up 3.5% over 2021.
The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment and the metric ATA says fleets should benchmark their levels with, came in at 107.6, representing a 4.5% decline compared to January’s 112.6 reading. ATA bases its NSA tonnage reading on a baseline with 100 representing 2015, adding that its For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.
“Tonnage has increased sequentially for the last three months totaling 2.9 percent,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement. “As a result, the index is just 0.3 percent below the recent high in September. The fact that our index is growing sequentially and on a year-over-year basis demonstrates that contract freight continues to hold up at high levels. Looking ahead, we continue to see evidence the inventory cycle is improving, which means bloated stocks will stop being a headwind and eventually help truck freight volumes. Increased infrastructure spending will also boost volumes heading into the summer months. However, we expect to see continued freight softness related to lower home construction and slowing factory output.”