Tonnage falls 0.3% in September

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Updated Jan 5, 2010

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.3 percent in September, after increasing 2.1 percent in both July and August. The decline lowered the SA index to 103.9. The nonseasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 107.9 in September, up 2.0 percent from August. Compared with September 2008, SA tonnage fell 7.3 percent, which was the best year-over-year showing since November 2008. In August, the index was down 7.5 percent from a year earlier.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says that the latest reading fits with the premise that the recovery will be moderate and choppy. “The trucking industry should not be alarmed by the very small decrease in September,” Costello says. “We took two steps forward in July and August, and this was a miniscule step backward.”

Costello says the industry should be prepared for ups and downs in the months ahead, but the general trend should be modest improvement. “Between most economic indicators recovering and less of an overhang in inventories, I’m confident that the industry is still on the road to recovery,” he says.

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.