Monday, July 27, 2009

Truck Tonnage Index Declined 2.4 Percent in June

by Bill McBride on 7/27/2009 08:22:00 PM

From the American Trucking Association: ATA Truck Tonnage Index Fell 2.4 Percent in June

Truck Tonnage Click on graph for larger image in new window.

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 2.4 percent in June. In May, SA tonnage jumped 3.2 percent. June’s decrease, which lowered the SA index to 99.8 (2000=100), wasn’t large enough to completely offset the robust gain in the previous month. ...

Compared with June 2008, tonnage fell 13.6 percent, which surpassed May’s 11 percent year-over-year drop. June’s contraction was the largest year-over-year decrease of the current cycle, exceeding the 13.2 percent drop in April.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said truck tonnage is likely to be choppy in the months ahead. “While I am hopeful that the worst is behind us, I just don’t see anything on the economic horizon that suggests freight tonnage is about to rise significantly or consistently,” Costello said. “The consumer is still facing too many headwinds, including employment losses, tight credit, and falling home values, to name a few, that will make it very difficult for household spending to jump in the near term.” He also noted that inventories, relative to sales, are still too high in much of the supply chain, especially in the manufacturing and wholesale industries. “As a result, this is likely to be the first time in memory that truck tonnage doesn’t lead the macro economy out of a recession. Today, many new product orders can be fulfilled with current inventories, not new production, thus suppressing truck tonnage.”

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing nearly 69 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.2 billion tons of freight in 2008. Motor carriers collected $660.3 billion, or 83.1 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
Some interesting comments from Costello. Maybe the cliff diving is over, but the sideways motion is "choppy". Not exactly little green shoots ...

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