Monday, June 27, 2011

ATA Trucking index decreased 2.3% in May

by Bill McBride on 6/27/2011 01:05:00 PM

From ATA Trucking: ATA Truck Tonnage Index Fell 2.3% in May

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 2.3% in May after decreasing a revised 0.6% in April 2011. April’s drop was slightly less than the 0.7% ATA reported on May 25, 2011.
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Compared with May 2010, SA tonnage climbed 2.7%, although this was the smallest year-over-year gain since February 2010. In April, the tonnage index was 4.8% above a year earlier.

“Truck tonnage over the last four months shows that the economy definitely hit a soft patch this spring,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “With our index falling in three of the last four months totaling 3.7%, it is clear why there is some renewed anxiety over the economic recovery.”

However, Costello added that he is cautiously optimistic that freight volumes will improve in the second half of the year along with economic activity.

“With oil prices falling and some of the Japan-related auto supply problems ending, I believe this was a soft patch and not a slide back into recession, and we should see better, but not great, economic activity in the months ahead,” he said.
Pulse of Commerce Index Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

Here is a long term graph that shows ATA's Fore-Hire Truck Tonnage index.

The dashed line is the current level of the index. From ATA:
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 67.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9 billion tons of freight in 2010. Motor carriers collected $563.4 billion, or 81.2% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
Obviously economic activity was weak in May as the Personal Income and Outlays report indicated this morning. Some of the weakness was due to supply chain issues and the sharp decline in auto sales - and some of the weakness was probably due to high oil and gasoline prices.