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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

ATA Trucking Index increases in March

by Calculated Risk on 4/23/2013 04:59:00 PM

This is a minor indicator that I follow.

From ATA: ATA Truck Tonnage Index Increased 0.9% in March

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index gained 0.9% in March after decreasing 0.7% in February. (The 0.7% loss in February was revised down from a 0.6% increase ATA reported on March 19, 2013.) Tonnage has now increased in four of the last five months. Specifically, since November 2012, the index is up 7.6%. In March, the SA index equaled 123.5 (2000=100) versus 122.3 in February. The highest level on record was December 2011 at 124.3. Compared with March 2012, the SA index was up a solid 3.8%, beating February’s 3.1% year-over-year gain.

“Fitting with the expectation for solid gross domestic product growth in the first quarter, tonnage was strong in March and the quarter overall,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “At 3.9% year-over-year growth, the first quarter increase was the best since the final quarter 2011.

“Expect freight tonnage will slow in the months ahead as the federal government sequester continues and households finish spending their tax returns,” he said. “The good news for tonnage is housing starts are growing and energy production is good – both of which generates heavy freight. However, these two sectors alone won’t be enough to keep the overall index growing at a 3.9% clip in the second quarter.”
emphasis added
Note from ATA:
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 67% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9.2 billion tons of freight in 2011. Motor carriers collected $603.9 billion, or 80.9% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
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 fairly noisy, but is up solidly year-over-year.