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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

ATA Trucking Index decreases slightly in April

by Calculated Risk on 5/21/2013 12:39:00 PM

This is a minor indicator that I follow.

From ATA: ATA Truck Tonnage Index Fell 0.2% in April

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 0.2% in April after rising 0.9% in March. (The 0.9% gain in March was unchanged from what ATA reported on April 23, 2013.) In April, the SA index equaled 123.2 (2000=100) versus 123.5 in March. The highest level on record was December 2011 at 124.3. Compared with April 2012, the SA index was up 4.3%, which is the largest year-over-year gain since January of this year (4.7%). Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2012, the tonnage index is up 4%.

“The slight drop in tonnage during April fit with trends from other industries that drive a significant amount of truck freight, such as manufacturing and housing,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said, noting that in April, compared with the previous month, factory output slipped 0.4% while housing starts plunged 16.5%.

“After rising significantly late last year and in January of this year, truck tonnage has been bouncing around a narrow, but elevated band over the last three months.” he said. “It is also worth noting that the year-over-year comparisons are much better than expected just a few months ago and I’m hearing good comments about freight so far in May.”
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.