Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Trucking news: ATA reports For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index down 2.4 percent in June

On a year-over-year basis, June 2008 tonnage sank 13.6 percent

After a 3.2 percent up tick in May, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index dropped 2.4 percent in June.

This is the third time in the last four months this index has dropped, with April and March down 2.2 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively. At the beginning of the year, the index had a promising start, with a 4.5 percent cumulative gain in January and February. The decline in the advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index to 99.8 (2000=100) was not significant enough to completely offset May’s performance, according to the ATA.

Meanwhile, the not seasonally adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, was 107.3 in June. This represents a 5.2 percent improvement from May, and if this trend were to continue it could mean that tonnage is slowly rebounding. Year-over-year NSA index data was not made available by the ATA. The NSA has shown gains the last three months.

As defined by the ATA, the not seasonally-adjusted index is assembled by adding up all the monthly tonnage data reported by the survey respondents (ATA member carriers) for the latest two months. Then a monthly percent change is calculated and then applied to the index number for the first month. Some industry analysts maintain that the not seasonally-adjusted index is more useful, because it is comprised of what truckers actually haul.

Even through the NSA showed a sequential gain, it appears there will be a long way to go before tonnage truly comes back to pre-recession levels. On a year-over-year basis, June 2008 tonnage sank 13.6 percent, which represents the biggest annual decline in this current cycle. May’s year-over-year decline was 11 percent, and April’s was 13.2 percent.

Bob Costello, ATA Chief Economist, said in a statement that it is likely tonnage levels will remain at current levels for the foreseeable future.

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