ATA Truck Tonnage Index climbs 1.7% in September

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The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index gained 1.7 percent in September after falling 1.9 percent in August. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the index increased to 113.1 from 111.1 in August.

September’s improvement was the best month-to-month gain since April 2006, when the index increased 2.0 percent. However, compared to a year earlier, the index was off 1.7 percent, and year-to-date, the index was down 1.9 percent, compared with the same period in 2005. The not-seasonally adjusted index fell 3.6 percent from August to 112.5.

“Even though truck tonnage improved in September, it’s easy to see that the pattern of starts and stops, which began in April, continued last month,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. After falling sharply in the first quarter, freight volumes have been on a seesaw pattern in the last two quarters, he said.

“It’s no surprise that tonnage was off from September 2005, as the jump in hurricane-related freight last year is making year-over-year comparisons very difficult,” Costello said. “Hopefully, the recent drop in gasoline prices will result in a better-than-expected holiday sales season and give a boost to truck volumes later this year and early next year.”

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