Truck Tonnage Increases 2.2 Percent

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.2 percent in December after falling a revised 0.6 percent in November. The latest improvement put the SA index at 111.6 (2000=100) in December, which was the highest level since September 2008. In November, the SA index equaled 109.2.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 107.2 in December, down 1 percent from the previous month.

Compared with December 2009, SA tonnage climbed 4.2 percent, which was higher than November’s 3.3 percent year-over-year increase. For all of 2010, tonnage was up 5.7 percent compared with 2009. In 2009, the index plunged 8.7 percent.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that December’s improvement fits well with the see-saw pattern that many carriers are reporting. “Fleets continue to tell me that freight volumes are very choppy – up one week, but down the next. That is a trend that is likely to continue this year as the economy is not growing across the board yet.” Still, Costello said it was a positive sign for the economy that SA tonnage reached the highest level in 27 months. “I continue to expect truck freight tonnage to grow modestly during the first half of 2011 and accelerate in the later half of the year into 2012.”

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