Tonnage jumped in April after rocky first quarter

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

ata truck tonnage index for 2015-2019The American Trucking Associations’ For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index, a measure of freight movement in the U.S., surged 7.4% in April from March, a positive upswing after two “particularly weak months” in February and April, says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

“Some of the gain was a catch-up effect,” he says. “In addition, the Easter holiday was later than usual, likely pushing freight that would ordinarily be moved in March into April.”

The surge in tonnage was “obviously good for trucking,” he says, bucking other trucking economy indicators of late. “I do not think the fundamentals underlying truck tonnage are as strong as April’s figure would indicate, but this may signal that any fears of a looming freight recession may have been overblown,” he says.

Compared with April 2018, tonnage was up 7.7%, the largest year-over-year gain since July 2018.