ATA Truck Tonnage Index jumped 3.1% in January

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The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 3.1 percent in January following a revised 1.3 percent increase in December 2009. The latest gain boosted the SA index from 107 in December to 110.4 in January, its highest level since September 2008. The nonseasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 99.5 in January, down 3.3 percent from the previous month.

Compared with January 2009, SA tonnage surged 5.7 percent, which was the best year-over-year reading since January 2005 and the second consecutive increase. For all of 2009, the tonnage index was down 8.7 percent – slightly larger than the previously reported 8.3 percent drop – the largest annual decrease since a 12.3 percent plunge in 1982.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says the latest tonnage reading, coupled with anecdotal reports from carriers, indicates that both the industry and the economy are clearly in a recovery mode. “While I don’t expect tonnage to continue growing as robustly as it did in January, the industry is finally moving in the right direction,” Costello says. “Although there are still risks that could throw the rebound off-track, the likelihood of that happening continues to diminish.”

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.