ATA Truck Tonnage Index up 0.6 percent in January

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The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.6 percent in January, marking its fifth consecutive monthly gain. ATA recently revised the index back five years, which resulted in a slightly stronger 2005 performance than previously reported. Each year, ATA revises the index back five years as part of its annual calculation for the upcoming year’s seasonal factors.

Following the revision, ATA’s index grew 2.3 percent compared with 2004 rather than 2.0 percent as originally reported. December’s tonnage level, meanwhile, actually increased 0.2 percent instead of falling significantly. January’s improvement pushed the seasonally adjusted index to 118.0, the second-highest level on record. Compared with January 2005, the index was 3.2 percent lower. The not-seasonally adjusted index rose 1.4 percent from December 2005 to 109.0.

“The end of 2005 was much stronger than we originally reported and fit more in line with reports we were getting from motor carriers,” says Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “January’s improvement was another good sign for the motor carrier industry. Tonnage volumes in January 2005 were extremely strong, and as a result, the 3.2 percent reduction on a year-over-year basis will not be the norm going forward. I expected a poor year-over-year comparison simply because January 2005 was such an ‘outlier,’ being the strongest monthly gain in 10 years. Year-over gains can be expected to improve in the months ahead.”

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. The baseline year for the index is 2000.