ATA tonnage index posts largest annual gain in 13 years

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Ata Tonnage

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 6.8 percent in December after rising 0.3 percent in November. The latest gain put the adjusted index at 124.5 in December, up from the November level of 116.6.

For all of 2011, tonnage rose 5.9 percent over the previous year – the largest annual increase since 1998. Tonnage for the last month of the year was 10.5 percent higher than December 2010, the largest year-over-year gain since July 1998. November tonnage was up 6.1 percent over the same month last year.

The nonseasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 116.4 in December, which was 0.8 percent above the previous month.

“While I’m not surprised that tonnage increased in December, I am surprised at the magnitude of the gain,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist, who noted that it was the largest month-to-month increase since January 2005. “Not only did truck tonnage increase due to solid manufacturing output in December, but also from some likely inventory restocking. Inventories, especially at the retail level, are exceedingly lean, and I suspect that tonnage was higher than expected as the supply chain did some restocking during the month.”

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.