Indicators: Tonnage tumbles in September, rates follow

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Updated Oct 19, 2016

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

916tonnageATA reports dip in Sept. tonnage: The amount of freight moved by the for-hire trucking industry, as measured by ATA’s monthly Truck Tonnage Index, fell 5.8 percent in September from August on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Compared to the same month last year, tonnage was down less than a percent. Year to date through September, tonnage is up 3 percent from the same period in 2015.

The drop in tonnage, coming on the heels of a 5 percent month-to-month jump in August, continues 2016 trend of choppy freight.

“The changes we’re seeing in typical seasonal trends are making it difficult to discern any real or clear trend in truck tonnage,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Adjusting for the larger ups and downs this year, as well as talking with many fleets, I currently see a softer than normal freight environment, which is likely to continue until the inventory correction is complete. Looking ahead, the slow growth economic environment does not suggest that significantly stronger truck tonnage numbers are in the near term either.”

916linehaulindexLinehaul rates continue downward trend: Linehaul rates fell again in September, according to the latest Cass Truckload Linehaul Index, which shows a 3.5 percent drop in linehaul rates in September from August. That’s the seventh straight month the index has signaled a drop in truckload pricing. Avondale Partners, who provides analysis of Cass’ monthly report, said truckload rates will continue to fall until the middle of next year, given the soft freight demand and excess industry capacity.