ATA Truck Tonnage Index fell 3.6% in January

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The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 3.6 percent in January after surging a revised 6.2 percent in December.

ATA recently revised the index back five years, which resulted in a slightly better 2006 than previously reported, although the index was still down for the year. ATA’s index fell 1.7 percent compared with 2005 rather than the originally reported 3.0 percent drop. December’s tonnage level, meanwhile, actually increased 6.2 percent instead of a previously reported 3.8 percent. ATA annually revises the index as part of its calculation for the upcoming year’s seasonal factors.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the index fell to 110.9 in January from 115.1 in December. Additionally, the index decreased 5.0 percent compared with a year earlier, marking the seventh consecutive year-over-year decline. The not-seasonally adjusted index advanced 6.5 percent from December to 108.0.

“Tonnage levels have become even more volatile in recent months, fitting with the anecdotal reports from motor carriers,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “January was not particularly good, which is highlighted by the tonnage index falling substantially from both December 2006 and January 2006. These reductions also fit with other economic data, including the purchasing managers’ index and manufacturing production. The Fed’s manufacturing production index, weighted by truck tonnage instead of the value of the goods, fell 1.2 percent from December and 2.9 percent from January 2006.”

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.