ATA Truck Tonnage Index up 0.4% in September

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After three consecutive monthly decreases, the American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.4 percent in September. The latest increase followed a 0.8 percent contraction in August.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the index rose to 113.9 from 113.5 in August. The index in September was 1.1 percent higher than a year earlier. Year-to-date, the index was up 2.1 percent, compared with the same period in 2004.

On a not-seasonally adjusted basis, the index fell 4.2 percent from August to 117.9. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said for the entire third quarter, the index slipped 0.8 percent from the second quarter, but it gained 0.8 percent from the third quarter of 2004.

Costello said that motor carriers had been anecdotally reporting solid freight levels in September and October. He also noted that at 1.1 percent, the year-over-year increase was the best rate since May of this year. The month-to-month gain in September was helped by a 0.1 percent gain in manufacturing shipments and a 0.2 percent gain in retail sales, according to Costello. Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy because it represents nearly 70 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods.

ATA calculates the 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 baseline year for the index is 2000.