Indicators: Tonnage sees major boom in February, ATA reports, reaching all-time high

user-gravatar Headshot
Updated Mar 24, 2016

CCJ’s Indicators rounds up the latest reports on trucking business indicators on rates, freight, equipment, the economy and more.


03 22 16 -- Tonnage Graphic for PostingThe amount of freight moved by the for-hire trucking industry, as measured by the American Trucking Associations’ monthly Truck Tonnage Index, jumped 7.2 percent in February, ATA reported March 22. The large jump was enough to push the index’s reading to its highest level on record.

Tonnage was up 8.6 percent from the same month in 2015, per the index reading, and up 4.8 percent year-to-date.

Despite the major tonnage gain, ATA’s Chief Economist Bob Costello says the industry should â€śnot read too much into it.”

“The strength was mainly due to a weaker than average January, including bad winter storms, thus there was some catch-up going on in February. Normally, fleets report large declines to ATA in February tonnage, in the range of 5.4% to 6.7% over the last three years. So, the small increase this year yielded a big seasonally adjusted gain. If March is strong, then I’ll get more excited.”

As in recent months, Costello says he remains concerned about retailers sales-to-inventory imbalance, with inventories remaining high and not reflective of sales. Inventories need to be reduced, he says, “before trucking can count on more consistent, better freight volumes.”