Monthly tonnage fell in April

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Updated Jan 13, 2010

Year-over-year index sees largest drop in 13 years
The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 2.2 percent in April, the second sequential decrease after plunging 4.5 percent in March. In April, the SA tonnage index equaled just 99.2, its lowest level since November 2001. The not seasonally adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, was down 2.9 percent from March. In April, the NSA index equaled 101.6.

Compared with April 2008, tonnage contracted 13.2 percent, the worst year-over-year decrease of the current cycle and the largest drop in 13 years. In March 2009, tonnage dropped 12.2 percent from a year earlier. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says truck tonnage is getting hit from both the recession and the massive inventory correction that the supply chain currently is undergoing.

“While most key economic indictors are decreasing at a slower rate, the year-over-year contractions in truck tonnage accelerated because businesses are right-sizing their inventories, which means fewer truck shipments,” Costello says. “The absolute dollar value of inventories has fallen, but sales have decreased as much or more, which means that inventories are still too high for the current level of sales. Until this correction is complete, freight will be tough for motor carriers.” Costello added that truck freight has yet to hit bottom and that it could be a few more months before this occurs.

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

NAFTA trade plummets again Value in March drops nearly 28 percent
Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico was 27.9 percent lower in March 2009 than in March 2008, dropping to $51.1 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation. March was the third consecutive month with a yearly decline of greater than 27 percent. The value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico rose 6.5 percent in March 2009 from February 2009.

U.S.-Canada surface transportation trade totaled $31.0 billion in March, down 34.2 percent compared to March 2008. U.S.-Mexico surface transportation trade totaled $20.0 billion in March, down 15.1 percent compared to March 2008.

In Brief
Small Business Administration
said June 15 that it had begun accepting applications for “America’s Recovery Capital” loans of up to $35,000 – dispersed over six months – to help viable small businesses weather immediate financial hardships. For more information on the interest-free deferred-payment loans, go to

Trailer production will continue at current low levels through the end of 2009 before beginning a slow recovery, predicts Eric Starks, president of FTR Associates. A large oversupply of trailers will act as a continuing drag on new trailer demand, resulting in very weak 2009 production of only 70,000 units for the industry as a whole, with modest improvement to 89,000 units in 2010, Starks says.

J.J. Keller & Associates developed a Web-based application, 2290 Online, to assist companies in filing IRS heavy vehicle use tax (HVUT) forms more
efficiently. J.J. Keller says 2290 Online provides user-defined security and access privileges, centralized tax filing and reminders of annual filings; users can access their account from anywhere, allowing use by multiple locations. For more information, go to

Fleet One entered into a multiyear fleet services agreement with Hess Corp. to become the issuer and processor of Hess’ private labeled fleet fueling card. Hess Corp., with headquarters in New York, has about 1,360 branded sites on the U.S. East Coast, serving customers from New Hampshire to Florida.

GE Capital Fleet announced it identified nearly $100 million in cost savings for customers in the first quarter of 2009.