American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.1% in March 2015 following a revised drop of 2.8% during the previous month. In March, the index equaled 133.5 (2000=100). The all-time high is 135.8, reached in January 2015.
Compared with March 2014, the SA index rose 5%, which was above the 3.3% gain in February but below January’s 6.7% year-over-year increase. During the first quarter, tonnage was unchanged from the previous quarter while climbing 5% from the same period in 2014.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 139.7 in March, which was 17.2% above the previous month (119.2).
“While tonnage did not fully recoup the loss from February, it increased nicely in March,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “I’d say that tonnage was one of the better indicators for the month, which is a positive sign for the broader economy.”
Costello said truck tonnage has increased in five of the past six months, but is off 1.7% from the high in January.
“The next couple of months will be telling for truck freight volumes as we enter the spring freight season,” he said.
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.