ATA Truck Tonnage Index fell 1.8% in October

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The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index dropped 1.8 percent in October after increasing 1.6 percent in September. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the index fell to 110.8 from 112.9 in September, putting the index at its lowest level since the end of the 2006 first quarter.

The index decreased 4.0 percent compared with a year earlier, marking the largest year-over-year decrease since February 2001. Year-to-date, the index was down 2.1 percent, compared with the same period in 2005. The not-seasonally adjusted index increased 4.7 percent from September to 117.7.

“While September was better than expected, October was certainly weaker than anticipated, especially on a year-over-year basis,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, the latest number fits with anecdotal reports that the traditional fall freight season was essentially nonexistent this year. After plummeting in February and March, freight volumes through October, on average, have been flat as every gain since May was followed by an equal or greater loss the next month.”

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.