ATA Truck Tonnage Index fell 0.3% in October

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The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.3 percent in October, after rising 1.5 percent in September. The not-seasonally adjusted index gained 14.0 percent from September to 122.1.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the tonnage index slipped to 110.9 in October. Tonnage also was down 1.5 percent from a year earlier. Year-to-date, the tonnage index was 2.2 percent lower than during the same period in 2006.

With only two months of data remaining for the year, the 2007 decrease could be the largest annual drop since a 5.2 percent reduction in 2000. The index fell 1.7 percent in 2006.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the October tonnage reading illustrates continued softness in truck tonnage. Although the weak freight environment is broad-based, the housing sector was a significant contributor to the decline and continues to affect flatbed carriers.

Provided the U.S. economy doesn’t slip into a recession, Costello expects freight levels will remain soft until the second half of 2008. “We anticipate truck freight volumes to be lackluster for the next couple of quarters,” Costello said. “There is nothing on the horizon that points to an acceleration in truck freight.”

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.