ATA Truck Tonnage Index Fell 2.9% in February

Mar 22, 2011, 10:41 ET from American Trucking Associations

ARLINGTON, Va., March 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The American Trucking Associations' advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 2.9% in February after increasing a revised 3.5% in January 2011. The latest drop put the SA index at 113.3 (2000=100) in February.  In January, the SA index equaled 116.6.   During December 2010 and January 2011, the SA tonnage index jumped a total of 6.1%.


The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 102 in February, down 2.8% from the previous month.  

Compared with February 2010, tonnage climbed 4.2%, although this was smaller than January's 7.6% year-over-year increase.  Through the first two months of the year, tonnage is up 5.9% compared with the same two months last year.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that the winter storms in February probably played a role in the latest reduction and that he wasn't concerned about the decrease: "Tonnage is not going to increase every month and in general I'm very pleased with freight volumes early this year." Costello also stated that the anecdotal reports from motor carriers are very encouraging:  "I'm hearing a significant amount of positive news from fleets and that the largest concern continues to be the price of diesel fuel, not freight levels."

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 68% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 8.8 billion tons of freight in 2009.  Motor carriers collected $544.4 billion, or 81.9% 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.

The American Trucking Associations ( is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of other trucking groups, industry-related conferences, and its 50 affiliated state trucking associations, ATA represents more than 37,000 members covering every type of motor carrier in the United States. Follow ATA on Twitter @TruckingMatters (, or become a fan on Facebook (

SOURCE American Trucking Associations