Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ATA Trucking Index declined in February

by Bill McBride on 3/24/2015 05:50:00 PM

Here is an indicator that I follow on trucking, from the ATA: ATA Truck Tonnage Index Fell 3.1% in February

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 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.
emphasis added
ATA Trucking Click on graph for larger image.

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

The dashed line is the current level of the index.

The index is now up 3.0% year-over-year.