Indicators: Truck tonnage tumbles again, spot market remains weak

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Updated May 25, 2016

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

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Tonnage down again: The amount of freight moved by for-hire trucking companies, as measured by the American Trucking Associations’ monthly Truck Tonnage Index, fell another 2.1 percent in April from March. ATA released its monthly tonnage report May 24.

April’s dip follows a sizeable 4.4 percent drop in March from February. ATA’s tonnage index, however, hit an all-time high in February, part of the reason for the declines in recent months, ATA says.

The index was down 2 percent from February 2015. Year to date, tonnage is up 3.5 percent, riding on February’s high. Excluding February, tonnage is up 1.8 percent year to date, ATA says.

““However, while freight remained soft in April, based on other economic indicators, the outlook for tonnage is a little better than just a couple of months ago,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “With that said, there is still an inventory correction transpiring throughout the supply chain that will keep a lid on truck freight volumes in the near term. As a result, we are still likely to experience lackluster tonnage numbers in the next few months.”


Spot market remains weak for carriers:’s weekly Market Demand Index fell 3.2 percent in the week ended May 22, driven lower by a 3 percent drop in load availability. The index is a reading of load availability vs. truck availability. More loads and fewer trucks put upward pressure on the index, while fewer loads and more truck availability put downward pressure on the index.

Compared to the same week in 2015, last week’s reading was down 22 percent. Load availability was down 25.3 percent from the same week last year, according to’s weekly Trans4Cast report.