ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations' (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 3.7 percent in 2017, compared with the year-ago period, marking the largest annual gain since 2013, when it hit 6.1 percent.
However, the index decreased 5.7 percent to 142.9 (2,000=100) in December from November. But compared with December 2016, the SA index increased 5.9 percent.
The not-seasonally-adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, totaled 141.9 in December, 3.4 percent below the previous month.
"Despite the decline in December, last year was a solid year for truck tonnage, especially during the second half of 2017," said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. "I remain optimistic for 2018 for a host of reasons, including a pick-up in factory activity, better housing construction, solid retail sales and an expected shot in the arm from the new tax law."
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.6 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods, according to the ATA.
Trucks hauled nearly 10.5 billion tons of freight in 2016. Motor carriers collected $676.2 billion, or 79.8 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes, the ATA said.
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, the association said.
The ATA is a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils.