Monthly tonnage up in November

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Updated Jan 13, 2010

Year-over-year index down for second straigh month

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.7 percent in November, marking the first month-to-month improvement since June 2008. The index contracted a total of 6.3 percent from June through October. In November, the seasonally adjusted tonnage index equaled 110.7; in October, the index was at the lowest level in five years.

Despite the increase in the seasonally adjusted measure, the freight outlook remains bleak. Specifically, the nonseasonally adjusted index, which measures the change in actual tonnage volumes reported by the fleets before any seasonal adjustments, fell 15.4 percent to 101.3 in November. The seasonally adjusted index declined 1.8 percent compared with November 2007, which was the second straight year-over-year decrease.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello cautioned against misinterpreting the slight increase in freight tonnage as indicative of the beginnings of an economic turnaround. Freight volumes remain weak, he said. “Don’t let November’s increase in the seasonally adjusted index fool you,” said Costello. “Freight volumes were down substantially before any seasonality is taken out of the data.” Tonnage also was off from year-over levels, showing the weakness in freight, said Costello, who expects freight to weaken further as the economy contracts through the first half of 2009.

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.

Trucking employs nearly 9 million
The American Trucking Associations’ American Trucking Trends 2008-2009 estimates that in 2007 there were 8.9 million people employed in trucking-related jobs, including nearly 3.5 million truck drivers. Additional highlights from the report include statistics that indicate the trucking industry’s important role in domestic and international commerce. In 2007, trucks transported 57.8 percent of the value of trade between the United States and Canada, up 3.4 percent from the previous year, and transported 66.2 percent of the value of trade between the United States and Mexico, up 4.8 percent. At present, Canada and Mexico rank No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in terms of U.S. trade partners.

American Trucking Trends 2008-2009 is available for purchase at or by calling 866-821-3468.

In Brief

Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico was 2.1 percent lower in October 2008 than in October 2007, reaching $72.7 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico rose 1.2 percent in October from September.

Flying J Inc. on Dec. 22 announced that the company and some of its subsidiaries filed petitions to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The company says the filing allows it to address near-term liquidity needs brought about by the decline in oil prices coupled with the disruption in the credit markets. Flying J says it plans to continue normal business operations at its 250 travel plazas and fuel stops throughout the reorganization process.

FedEx Freight and FedEx National LTL implemented a 5.7 percent general rate increase effective Jan. 5. Rates for other operating companies within FedEx Corp. were not affected.

AmeriQuest says that companies looking to save on material handling parts will find opportunities with its new offering, AmeriQuest Material Handling Services, which was created to level the playing field for midsize to large distribution companies and private fleets by leveraging the buying power of its member base. For more information, go to