ARLINGTON, Va. (June 19, 2013) — Trucking activity in the U.S. picked up in May, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which said its monthy truck tonnage index for the month exceeded the levels recorded in both May 2012 and April 2013.
The associations' seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index — which measures trucking activity against a base of 100 from the year 2000 — was 6.7 percent ahead of May 2012 and at the highest level the ATA has recorded in the index's 13 years of existence. May was up 2.3 percent over April as well, the ATA said.
"After bouncing around in a fairly tight band during the previous three months, tonnage skyrocketed in May," according to ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello, who acknowledged being "a little surprised" by the gain.
Mr. Costello attributed some of the increase to rising factory output, for the first time since February, and stronger retail sales.
"The 6.8-percent surge in new housing starts during May obviously pushed tonnage up as home construction generates a significant amount of truck tonnage," he said.
Tonnage shipped continues to outpace the number of loads hauled as heavy freight — such as housing construction materials and sand and water for hydraulic fracturing — is outperforming box trailer freight, he added.
The ATA — a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils — calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s.