ATA Truck Tonnage Index rose 0.7 percent in July

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The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index increased for the third time in the last four months, rising 0.7 percent in July. The latest increase followed a 0.4 percent contraction in June.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the index expanded to 113.4 from 112.6 in June. July’s index level was the highest since a 113.7 reading in February of this year. Compared to July 2005, the index was 1.6 percent lower. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2005, the index was down 1.8 percent. The not-seasonally adjusted index contracted 8.7 percent from June to 109.0.

“Tonnage volumes increased nicely in July, but the industry has yet to fully recover from the large decrease in volumes during the first quarter of the year,” says Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “There is no doubt the three month-to-month increases during the last four months are very positive, although I’d feel even better if the index was growing on a year-over-year basis as well.” Costello attributed the July increase to gains in retail sales and manufacturing activity.

“Ever since the large declines in February and March, the tonnage index has risen nicely, gaining 2.7 percent in total,” Costello says. “With industry capacity fairly tight heading into the traditional peak season, tonnage levels don’t have to increase significantly for the industry to maintain its favorable supply-demand balance.”

ATA calculates the index based on surveys from its membership. The baseline year is 2000.