Published on December 23, 2013

ATA truck tonnage index jumped in Nov.

ARLINGTON, Va. (Dec 23, 2013) — The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage index increased 2.7 percent in November, after falling 1.9 percent in October.

The group said October’s decrease was less than the preliminary drop of 2.8 percent ATA reported on Nov. 19. In November, the index equaled 128.5 vs. 125.1 in the previous month.

November’s level is a record high, the ATA said, noting that compared with November 2012, the SA index surged 8.1 percent—down from October’s 9 percent surge “but still very robust.” Year-to-date, tonnage is up 5.8 percent compared with the same period in 2012.

The not-seasonally-adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 122.4 in November. That’s 8.8 percent below the previous month’s tally of 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.

Mr. Costello said tonnage accelerated in the second half of 2013, indicating 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,” he said.

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, with the sample including an array of trucking companies ranging from small fleets to multi-billion dollar carriers.

The ATA said that when a company in its sample fails, that fleet’s final month of operation is included and then zeroed 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, the trucking group added.

“Nevertheless, some carriers are picking up freight from failures and it may have boosted the index,” the ATA said. “Due to our correction mentioned above however, it should be limited.”

ATA—which has been calculating its tonnage index based on surveys from its membership since the 1970s—is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry and includes a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils,

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