Truck tonnage for the month of February was somewhat mixed, according to the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) Truck Tonnage Index, which was released today.
The ATA’s advanced seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index dipped 2.6% to 109.2 (2015=100) from January’s 112.1, which was up 1.6% compared to December (and downwardly revised from an initial reading of 2.0%).
On an annual basis, the February SA reading was up 5.7%, which trailed January’s 8.4% annual gain and also ahead of 2017’s 3.8% annual gain. Through the first two months of 2017, ATA said that SA tonnage is up 7.1% compared to the same period a year ago.
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 99.7 in February, dropping 6.7% compared to January’s 106.8, and was down 14.4% annually.
“Despite a softer February than January, freight remains robust as exhibited in the year-over-year increase,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement. “The drivers of truck freight – personal consumption, factory output and construction – are good, plus the inventory cycle is in favor of motor carriers, so I expect freight tonnage to grow at a decent pace in the months ahead.”
Costello’s takeaways are in sync with overall market sentiment, as well as decent mainstream economic metrics like GDP, retail sales, industrial production, and manufacturing output, among others.
But, as has been reported, over-the-road capacity remains very tight, due to the ongoing driver shortage, and the recently-implemented ELD mandate for motor carriers.