American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 3.1% in February 2015 following a revised gain of 1.3% during the previous month. In February, the index equaled 131.6 (2000=100), the lowest level since September 2014.
Compared with February 2014, the SA index increased 3%, although this was the smallest year-over-year gain since June 2014 and below the 2014 annual increase of 3.7%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 118.9 in February 2015, which was 6.4% below the previous month (127.0).
“The February drop in truck tonnage was not a surprise,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “Retail sales, manufacturing output, and housing starts were all off during the month, so the tonnage decline fits with those indicators. The surprise would have been had tonnage increased with all of those sectors falling.”
Costello said the winter weather that impacted a large portion of the nation during February had a negative impact on truck tonnage, as well as industries that drive tonnage, such as retail, manufacturing, and housing starts.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the US economy, representing 69.1% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9.7 billion tons of freight in 2013. Motor carriers collected $681.7 billion, or 81.2% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.