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ATA Truck Tonnage Index plunges 2.7% in August

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 2.7% in August 2010, which was the largest month-to-month decrease since March 2009. This latest drop lowered the SA index from 110 (2000=100) in July to 106.9 in August.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 113.5 in August, up 3.2% from the previous month.

Compared with August 2009, SA tonnage climbed 2.9%, which was well below July’s 7.4% year-over-year gain. Year-to-date, tonnage is up 6.2% versus the same period in 2009.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said August’s data highlights that the economy, while still growing, is slowing.

“We fully anticipate sluggish economic growth for the remainder of this year and the latest tonnage numbers are reflecting that slowdown,” he said. However, Costello believes the trucking environment has changed dramatically.

“While I’d much rather see better tonnage figures, motor carriers can now do better with small increases in demand since so much supply left the industry during the recession,” 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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