ATA Truck Tonnage Index falls 2.1% in August

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The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 2.1 percent in August. The setback was preceded by a 0.7 percent gain in July. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the index fell to 110.9 from 113.3 in July.

August’s index level is the lowest reading since tonnage stood at 110.4 in March of this year and is now 2.9 percent lower than a year earlier. Year-to-date, the index is down 2 percent, compared with the same period in 2005. The not-seasonally adjusted index jumped 6.8 percent from July to 116.5.

“Freight volumes typically increase between July and August, but the gain this year wasn’t strong enough to push the seasonally adjusted reading into positive territory,” says Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “The dramatic fall in the housing sector in recent months impacted August truck tonnage, specifically flatbed freight. Although there is not as much flatbed tonnage as dry van tonnage, a slowdown in flatbed freight weighed down the overall figure.”

Costello said general freight truckload gains were in line with anecdotal reports that suggest the fall freight season started with a whimper rather than a roar, much like last year. ATA calculates the index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. The baseline year is 2000.