Truck Tonnage Index Increased Nearly 1 Percent in April

The American Trucking Associations' (ATA) advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased for the sixth time in the last seven months, gaining another 0.9% in April 2010. This followed a 0.4% increase in March. The latest improvement put the index at 110.2 (2000=100), which is the highest level since September 2008. Over the last seven months, the tonnage index has grown a total of 6.5%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 111.3 in April, down 4.4% from the previous month.

Compared with April 2009, SA tonnage improved 9.4%, which was the fifth consecutive year-over-year gain and the largest increase since January 2005. Year-to-date, tonnage is up 6% compared with the same period in 2009.

The latest tonnage reading fits with a sustained economic recovery, observes Bob Costello, chief economist with the ATA. "Truck tonnage volumes continue to improve at a solid, yet sustainable, rate," he says. "Tonnage is being boosted by robust manufacturing output and stronger retail sales. For most fleets, freight volumes feel better than reported tonnage because the supply situation, particularly in the truckload sector, is turning quickly.”

Each month, the 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.

Trucking represents 68% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 8.8 billion tons of freight in 2009. Motor carriers collected $544.4 billion, or 81.9%, of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

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