Monthly truck tonnage index up 0.4%, year-to-year up 7.5%

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The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.4 percent in March, following a revised 0.3 percent decrease in February. The latest improvement put the SA index at 109.2, which is the highest level since November 2008. The nonseasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 116.4 in March, up 19.1 percent from the previous month.
Compared with March 2009, SA tonnage jumped 7.5 percent, which was the fourth consecutive year-over-year gain and the largest increase since January 2005. For the first quarter of 2010, SA tonnage was up 4.9 percent compared with the same period last year.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says he is getting more optimistic about the motor carrier industry’s recovery. “Freight is moving in the right direction, and I continue to hear from motor carriers that both the demand and supply situations are steadily improving,” says Costello, who attributed the first-quarter improvement in tonnage to the growing economy and to a slight inventory build after some sectors slashed inventories by too much in 2009. “For most fleets, freight volumes feel better than reported tonnage because the supply situation, particularly in the truckload sector, is turning quickly,” 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.