ATA Truck Tonnage Index increases in July 2010

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.5% in July 2010, although June’s reduction was revised from 1.4% to 1.6%. The latest improvement raised the SA index from 108.3 (2000=100) in June to 110 in July.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 109.9 in July, down 5% from the previous month.

Compared with July 2009, SA tonnage climbed 7.4%, which matched June’s increase and was the eighth consecutive year-over-year gain. Year-to-date, tonnage is up 6.7% compared with the same period in 2009.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said July’s data didn’t change his outlook for subdued tonnage growth in the months ahead. “The economy is slowing, and truck freight tonnage has essentially gone sideways since April 2010,” he said.

Nevertheless, Costello believes tonnage will post moderate gains, on average, for the second half of the year. “After accounting for the reduction in supply over the last few years, even small gains in tonnage will have a larger impact on the industry than in past,” he said.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the US economy, representing 68% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 8.8 billion tons of freight in 2009. Motor carriers collected $544.4 billion, or 81.9% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

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