Truck Tonnage Shows Signs of Life

Whether a harbinger of economic malaise or just a slight hiccup in domestic freight transportation, when the Truck Tonnage Index is down, gloom looms, when it rises, the picture seems bright. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) shows a gain of 1.7% for the Index after a decline of 1.9% in August.

The gain was the best since April of this year when the Index rose 2.0%. For the year to date, the Index is down 1.9% year over year. After a steep drop during the first quarter of 2006, the Index has moved up and down during the second and third quarters.

As ATA’s chief economist, Bob Costello, notes, “Even though truck tonnage improved in September, it’s easy to see that the pattern of starts and stops, which began in April, continued last month. It’s no surprise that tonnage was off from September 2005, as the jump in hurricane-related freight last year is making year over year comparisons very difficult.

Costello does see a glimmer of hope on the horizon. “Hopefully,” he says, “the recent drop in gasoline prices will result in a better than expected holiday sales season and give a boost to truck volumes later this year and early next year.”

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