ATA’s freight index drops in August

The American Trucking Associations said its advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.8 percent in August to 113.5. In addition, the July index — from which the August index declined — was itself 0.5 percent lower than earlier reported following a downward revision.

On the bright side, the August index was slightly higher — 0.7 percent — than a year earlier. Year to date, the index is up 2.2 percent compared with the same 2004 period.

On a month-over month basis, August represents the third consecutive monthly decrease in the index, totaling 1.5 percent, says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. On a year-over-year basis, the index has risen in each 2005 month except April. But growth has slowed from 8.6 percent early this year to below 1 percent.

Manufacturing played a big role in the deceleration in truck tonnage, Costello says. If the Federal Reserve’s measure for manufacturing output is recalculated based on tonnage rather than the value of the product, the so-called truck-tonnage weighted manufacturing production index has slowed from 4.0 percent year-over-year growth in January to just 0.1 percent in August. The same index fell 0.1 percent from July to August, he says.

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 baseline year for the index is 2000.