ARLINGTON, Va. (Dec. 23, 2014) — The volume of freight moved by trucks in the U.S. jumped 4.4 percent in November from the year-ago month, pushing the year-to-date improvement over 2013 to 3.3 percent, according to the American Trucking Associations' latest seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage index numbers.
The November gain was the second highest of 2014, elipsed only by the 4.5 percent recorded in October, the ATA said, and is the fourth gain in the past five months.
“With strong readings for both retail sales and factory output in November, I'm not surprised that tonnage increased as well,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, the strength in tonnage did surprise to the upside.”
The index's gain over the past five months was 6.4 percent, prompting Mr. Costello to say, “Clearly, the economy is doing well with tonnage on such a robust trend-line.”
The index also showed a 3.5-percent increase over October 2014, and at 136.8 was the highest level recorded since the ATA started the index in 2000.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, the AT said, representing 69.1% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods.
Trucks hauled 9.7 billion tons of freight in the U.S. in 2013, and motor carriers collected $681.7 billion in revenue.
The ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month.