The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 2.8% in October 2013, 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 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, versus 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 2013, 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 Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “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.”
Trucking serves as a barometer of the US 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.