Monday, October 26, 2009

ATA Truck Tonnage Index Declines in September

by Bill McBride on 10/26/2009 11:28:00 AM

From the American Trucking Association: ATA Truck Tonnage Index Slipped 0.3 Percent in September

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

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.3 percent in September, after increasing 2.1 percent in both July and August. The latest decline lowered the SA index to 103.9 (2000=100). ...

Compared with September 2008, SA tonnage fell 7.3 percent, which was the best year-over-year showing since November 2008. In August, the index was down 7.5 percent from a year earlier.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that the latest reading fits with the premise that the recovery will be moderate and choppy. “The trucking industry should not be alarmed by the very small decrease in September,” Costello noted. “We took two steps forward in July and August and this was a miniscule step backward.” He added that the industry should be prepared for ups and downs in the months ahead, but the general trend should be modest improvement. ...

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.
Trucking has benefited from some inventory restocking, and exports - two key positive areas for the economy, however further growth will probably be "modest" and "choppy" until there is a pickup in domestic end demand.