Tim BoyleGetty Images News

Tim Boyle/Getty Images News

Truck Tonnage Index springs forward after three declines

American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 6.5% in May 2017 after a 1.5% decline during April. In May, the index equaled 144.1 (2000=100), up from 135.3 in April.

Compared with May 2016, the SA index climbed 4.8%, which was the largest year-over-year gain since November 2016. In April 2017, the index contracted 0.8% on a year-over-year basis. Year-to-date, compared with the same five months in 2016, the index is up 0.9%. For all of 2016, tonnage was up 2.5%.

As part of this report, ATA also revised its April 2017 decline in the index downward to a 1.5% dip from a previously reported 2.5% drop.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 145.3 in May 2017, which was 8.5% above the previous month (134).

“After three straight declines totaling 2.6%, truck tonnage snapped back in May,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “One month does not make a trend, but the nice gain last month fits more with the anecdotal reports I’ve been hearing from fleets—at least more so than three straight months of decreases.

“Despite the robust jump in May, I still expect moderate growth going forward as key sectors of the economy continue to improve slowly,” he said.

Costello provides further commentary on the May tonnage report in this video.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the US economy, representing 70.1% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled nearly 10.5 billion tons of freight in 2015. Motor carriers collected $726.4 billion, or 81.2% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

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