Sep 27, 2011, 12:39 ET
ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Trucking Associations' advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index declined 0.2% in August after falling a revised 0.8% in July 2011. July's decrease was less than the 1.3% ATA reported on August 23, 2011. The latest drop put the SA index at 114.4 (2000=100) in August, down from the July level of 114.6.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 123.8 in August, which was 10.9% above the previous month.
Compared with August 2010, SA tonnage was up a solid 5.2%. In July, the tonnage index was 4.5% above a year earlier.
"Freight has been going sideways for much of this year, but it isn't falling significantly either, which suggests the U.S. economy just might skirt another recession," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said.
Anecdotally, Costello noted carriers handling as much freight as they can.
"In part, this is due to less industry supply. The number of trucks operated by the truckload industry is still down about 12% from the height in late 2006, yet tonnage levels are about the same as in late 2006. Additionally, most carriers are finding it very difficult to hire new truck drivers, which mean they can't add too many trucks."
Note on the impact of trucking company failures on the index: Each month, ATA asks its membership the amount of tonnage each carrier hauled, including all types of freight. The indexes are calculated based on those responses. The sample includes an array of trucking companies, ranging from small fleets to multi-billion dollar carriers. When a company in the sample fails, we include its final month of operation and zero it out for the following month, with the assumption that the remaining carriers pick up that freight. As a result, it is close to a net wash and does not end up in a false increase. Nevertheless, some carriers are picking up freight from failures and it may have boosted the index. Due to our correction mentioned above however, it should be limited.
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.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.
American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation's freight. Follow ATA on Twitter or on Facebook. Good stuff. Trucks Bring It!
SOURCE American Trucking Associations
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