ATA Truck Tonnage Index up 2.0% in April

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The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.0 percent in April, following a revised 2.9 percent drop in March. The latest increase was the first since January and the strongest month-to-month gain since January 2005.

The latest increase put the seasonally adjusted index at 112.6; compared with April 2005, the index was 1.9 percent lower. The not-seasonally adjusted index dropped 9.5 percent from March to 107.8.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says April was in line with industry expectations, as many motor carriers anecdotally stated that the month was the most robust since January. April volumes were a “step in the right direction” after several weaker months, but Costello says they didn’t fully make up for the softer volumes of February and March. A significant retail inventory correction coupled with softer volumes for high-weight products in the manufacturing sector curbed tonnage volumes in those two months.

“If February and March weren’t so weak, the 2.0 percent jump in April would have been viewed as stellar,” Costello says. “Many carriers have noted an abnormally high start-and-stop trend in freight recently, with some good weeks followed by a step backward. Nevertheless, April was a good sign that truck volumes are improving from the challenging first quarter.” Costello says he generally expects modest gains will continue in coming months.

ATA calculates the index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. 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.