ATA Truck Tonnage Index fell 0.3% in July

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The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.3 percent in July, marking the first month-to-month drop since April. The seasonally adjusted tonnage index equaled 116.2 in July, while the nonseasonally adjusted index fell 0.1 percent to 119.7.

The seasonally adjusted index was 4.4 percent higher compared with July 2007, marking its ninth consecutive year-over-year increase, although the gain was a full percentage point lower than the improvement in June. Year-to-date, the index was up 3.6 percent compared with the same period in 2007. Tonnage contracted 1.7 percent and 1.5 percent in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said July’s tonnage reading matched several anecdotal reports from motor carriers that freight was softer in July than the previous month. Costello cautioned that truck tonnage could be volatile in coming months because the economy is expected to soften further before improving. However, slight declines in fuel prices and tightening capacity could help offset softer freight volumes, he said.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons and key financial indicators. The baseline year is 2000.