Monthly tonnage down 0.7% in April, year-over-year up 4.8%

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Ata Truck Tonnage IndexThe American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.7 percent in April after gaining a revised 1.9 percent in March. While March’s increase was slightly better than the 1.7 percent previously reported, the latest drop put the adjusted index at 114.9 in April, down from the March level of 115.6.

The nonseasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 113.6 in April, which was 8 percent below the previous month. Compared with April 2010, adjusted tonnage climbed 4.8 percent; in March, the tonnage index was 6.5 percent above a year earlier.

“The drop in April is not a concern,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Since freight volumes are so volatile, truck tonnage is unlikely to grow every month, even on a seasonally adjusted basis. I expect economic activity, and with it truck freight levels, to grow at a moderate pace in the coming months and quarters.”

Costello said the industry, and the economy at large, should benefit from recent declines in oil and diesel prices. “Lower fuel costs will help freight volumes and motor carrier bottom lines going forward,” he said.

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.