ATA Truck Tonnage Index Rose 0.1% in June
ARLINGTON, VA--July 23, 2013: The American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index edged 0.1% higher in June after surging 2.1% in May. (May's increase was slightly lower than the 2.3% gain ATA reported on June 18, 2013.) In June, the SA index equaled 125.9 (2000=100) versus 125.8 in May. June 2013 is the highest level on record. Compared with June 2012, the SA index surged 5.9%, which is robust, although below May's 6.5% year-over-year gain. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2012, the tonnage index is up 4.7%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 125.9 in June, which was 5% below the previous month (132.4).
"The fact that tonnage didn't fall back after the 2.1% surge in May is quite remarkable," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. "While housing starts were down in June, tonnage was buoyed by other areas like auto production which was very strong in June and durable-goods output, which increased 0.5% during the month according to the Federal Reserve."
"Robust auto sales also helped push retail sales higher, helping tonnage in June." he said, "The trend this year is heavy freight, like autos and energy production, is growing faster than lighter freight, which is pushing truck tonnage up."
Note on the impact of trucking company failures on the index: Each month, ATA asks its membership the amount of tonnage each carrier hauled, including all types of freight. The indexes are calculated based on those responses. The sample includes an array of trucking companies, ranging from small fleets to multi-billion dollar carriers. When a company in the sample fails, we include its final month of operation and zero it out for the following month, with the assumption that the remaining carriers pick up that freight. As a result, it is close to a net wash and does not end up in a false increase. Nevertheless, some carriers are picking up freight from failures and it may have boosted the index. Due to our correction mentioned above however, it should be limited.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 68.5% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9.4 billion tons of freight in 2012. Motor carriers collected $642.1 billion, or 80.7% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.