ATA Truck Tonnage Index
ends 2012 with a surge
Jan 23, 2013 9:25 AM
The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.8% in December 2012 after surging 3.9% in November. The 3.9% gain in November was revised from a 3.7% increase ATA reported Dec 18, 2012.
These back-to-back increases in November and December were by far the best of gains of 2012. As a result, the SA index equaled 121.6 (2000=100) in December versus 118.3 in November. Despite the solid monthly increase, compared with December 2011, the SA index was off 2.3%—the worst year-over-year result since November 2009. For all of 2012, tonnage climbed 2.3%. In 2011, the index rose 5.8%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 110.3 in December, which was 4.9% below the previous month.
“December was better than anticipated in light of the very difficult year-over-year comparison,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. In December 2011, the index surged 6.4% from the previous month. Costello anticipates more sluggishness in the index in 2013, especially early in the year, as the economy continues to face several headwinds.
“As paychecks shrink for all households due to higher taxes, I’m expecting a weak first quarter for tonnage and the broader economy,” he said. “Since trucks account for the vast majority of deliveries in the retail supply chain, any reduction in consumer spending will have ramifications on truck tonnage levels.”
Trucking serves as a barometer of the US economy, representing 67% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9.2 billion tons of freight in 2011. Motor carriers collected $603.9 billion, or 80.9% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
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