ATA Truck Tonnage Index rose 1.6% in February

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The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.6 percent in February after falling a revised 3.1 percent in January. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the index improved to 113.3 in February from 111.5 the previous month. The index decreased 1.7 percent compared with a year earlier, marking the eighth consecutive year-over-year decline. The not-seasonally adjusted index fell 6.8 percent from January to 101.2.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said February’s tonnage increase came as a surprise given other economic trends during the month and considering the rough winter weather. He attributed some of the index’s strength, however, to easy comparisons with January because the first month of the year was particularly weak.

“The latest increase from January, as well as the relatively small decrease from a year earlier, while welcomed, is probably not the norm, at least in the short-run,” Costello said. “Freight levels remain challenging, despite some anecdotal reports of better volumes in late March. At this time, however, it is difficult to ascertain whether those reports are due to seasonal blips or an underlying trend. We continue to look to the second half of 2007 for better tonnage volumes. But we shouldn’t expect a robust rebound in freight during 2007.”

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