American Trucking Associations’advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 3.1% in February, 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 of last year 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 which was 6.4% below the previous month (127.0).
“The February drop in truck tonnage was not a surprise,”said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “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 added that the winter weather that impacted a large portion of the country during February had a negative impact on truck tonnage as well as industries that drive tonnage, like retail, manufacturing and housing starts.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. 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.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons and key financial indicators.
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