ARLINGTON, Va., April 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 0.2% in March after increasing 0.5% in February. (February's rise was unchanged from the preliminary gain we reported on March 27th.) The SA index stood at 119.5 (2000=100), up from 119.3 in February. Compared with March 2011, the SA index was up 2.7%, which was the smallest year-over-year increase since December 2009.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 123.2 in March, which was 9.1% above the previous month.
"March tonnage, and the first quarter overall, was reflective of an economy that is growing, but growing moderately," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. "The pace of freight definitely slowed from the torrid pace in late 2011."
"Most economic indicators still look good, which will continue to support tonnage going forward," he said. Costello also noted that the industry should not expect the rate of growth seen over the last couple of years, when tonnage grew 5.8% in both 2010 and 2011. "Expect tonnage overall this year to be up at a more moderate rate, perhaps less than 3%, which is more in-line with normal growth."
To see Costello discuss this month's report, click here.
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!