The American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.7 percent in November, after falling 1.9 percent in October. October's decrease was less than the preliminary drop of 2.8 percent ATA reported on November 19, 2013. In November, the index equaled 128.5 (2000=100) versus 125.1 in October. November's level is a record high. Compared with November 2012, the SA index surged 8.1 percent, which is down from October's 9 percent surge, but still very robust. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2012, tonnage is up 5.8 percent.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 122.4 in November, which is 8.8 percent below the previous month (134.2).
"Tonnage snapped back in November, which fits with several other economic indicators," said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. "Assuming that December isn't weak, tonnage growth this year will be more than twice the gain in 2012."
Tonnage increased 2.3 percent in 2012. Costello noted tonnage accelerated in the second half of the year, indicating that the economy is likely stronger some might believe.
"Still, truck tonnage continues to be supported by fast growing sectors of the economy that generate heavy freight loads, like residential construction, fracking for oil and natural gas, and auto production," Costello said.
Note on the impact of trucking company failures on the index: Each month, ATA asks its membership the amount of tonnage each carrier hauled, including all types of freight. The indexes are calculated based on those responses. The sample includes an array of trucking companies, ranging from small fleets to multi-billion dollar carriers. When a company in the sample fails, we include its final month of operation and zero it out for the following month, with the assumption that the remaining carriers pick up that freight. As a result, it is close to a net wash and does not end up in a false increase. Nevertheless, some carriers are picking up freight from failures and it may have boosted the index. Due to our correction mentioned above however, it should be limited.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 68.5 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9.4 billion tons of freight in 2012. Motor carriers collected $642.1 billion, or 80.7 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.
American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences...
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