ATA Truck Tonnage Index Decreased 2.8% in October


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ARLINGTON, VA--Nov. 19, 2013: The American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 2.8% in October, the first decrease since July. In September, the index was up 0.5%. September's increase was less than the preliminary 1.4% gain ATA reported on October 22, 2013. In October, the index equaled 124 (2000=100) versus 127.5 in September. October's level was the lowest since April. Compared with October 2012, the SA index surged 8%, which is the largest year-over-year gain since December 2011. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2012, the tonnage index is up 5.5%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 133 in October, which was 4.9% above the previous month (126.9).

"From May through September, the index surged 3.5%, including only one monthly decrease over that period," said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. "It isn't surprising for volumes to fall back some after such a good run."

"Despite October's month-to-month decrease, we saw a very robust year-over-year increase and I'm seeing some good signs out of the trucking industry that suggests the economy may be a little stronger than we think," he said. "Specifically, the heavy freight sectors, like tank truck, have been helping tonnage this year. But in the third quarter, generic dry van truckload freight saw the best quarterly gains since 2010. I view this positively for the economy. I view it positively for trucking. Now, we have to see if it continues."

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.

American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation's freight. Follow ATA on Twitter or on Facebook. Good stuff. Trucks Bring It!

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