Truck tonnage decreases in August
Sep 29, 2008 3:30 PM
American Trucking Associations (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.6 percent in August, marking the largest month-to-month drop since March of this year.
Additionally, the index fell 0.9 percent in July, a downward revision from the 0.3-percent drop reported Aug. 26. In August, the seasonally adjusted tonnage index equaled 113.6 (2000 = 100), its lowest level since November 2007. The not seasonally adjusted index decreased 3.4 percent to 115.0 in August, ATA said.
The seasonally adjusted index was 2.6 percent higher compared with August 2007, marking its tenth consecutive year-over-year increase. The gain was more than one percentage point lower than the improvement in July. Year-to-date, the index was up 3.4 percent compared with the same period in 2007. Tonnage contracted 1.7 percent and 1.5 percent in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said freight slowed during July and August preceding an expected slowdown in economic activity. “We are forecasting a mild recession later this year and early next year,” he noted. “Make no mistake about it, freight volumes are weakening.” Costello cautioned that year-over-year growth in the index is simply the result of soft tonnage volumes in 2007."
Because trucking is a leading economic indicator, Costello said trucking eventually will see an improvement before the overall economy. Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing nearly 70 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.7 billion tons of freight in 2006. Motor carriers collected $645.6 billion, or 83.8 percent 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.
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