Tonnage index drops sharply in August

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Tonnage Index August E1285702184120

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index in August plunged 2.7 percent from the July level. The drop was the largest month-to-month decrease since March 2009. The SA index dropped from 110 in July to 106.9 in August. Compared with August 2009, SA tonnage climbed 2.9 percent, which was well below July’s 7.4 percent year-over-year gain. Year-to-date, tonnage is up 6.2 percent compared with the same period in 2009.

On an absolute basis — without adjusting for seasonality — the inex was up 3.2 percent from July to August.

August’s data highlights that the economy, while still growing, is slowing, says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “We fully anticipate sluggish economic growth for the remainder of this year and the latest tonnage numbers are reflecting that slowdown.” Even so, Costello sees that the trucking market has changed dramatically for the better. “While I’d much rather see better tonnage figures, motor carriers can now do better with small increases in demand since so much supply left the industry during the recession.”

The base year for ATA’s index is 2000. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership; the reported figure is preliminary and is subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month.