June truck tonnage sees a decrease, reports ATA

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage at 138.5 (2000=100) fell 4.3% after a revised 6.9% (from 6.5%) jump in May.

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The American Trucking Associations (ATA) reported today that truck tonnage volumes headed down in June on the heels of decent traction in May.

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage at 138.5 (2000=100) fell 4.3% after a revised 6.9% (from 6.5%) jump in May. Compared to June 2016, SA tonnage headed up 1.3%, following a 5.2% annual gain in May. And for the first six months of 2016 ATA said SA tonnage is up 1%.

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment and the metric ATA says fleets should benchmark their levels with, came in at 144.3 in June, which is 1% less than May at 145.8. Compared to June 2016, the NSA is up 1.5%.

As defined by the ATA, the NSA index is assembled by adding up all the monthly tonnage data reported by the survey respondents (ATA member carriers) for the latest two months. Then a monthly percent change is calculated and then applied to the index number for the first month.

“After such a large spike in May, it was not surprising to see the index give back some of those gains in June,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement. “However, looking back at the second quarter as a whole, tonnage was up 0.8% over the first quarter and 1.9% over the same quarter last year, so it was a solid three month period. June’s slide does not change my belief that we will continue to see moderate, albeit at times choppy, growth in truck tonnage as the year continues.”

Last month, Costello said he expects moderate growth moving forward as key sectors of the economy continue to improve slowly.

Some of these key sectors, which have been previously outlined by Costello, include things like lower inventory levels, better manufacturing activity, solid housing starts, good consumer spending, as well as an increase in the oil rig count – all of which are drivers of freight volumes.

Should the inventory issues truly continue to recede, it will go a long way in helping volume growth, especially if it runs in tandem with ongoing job growth, and the semblance of sustained gains in retail sales and consumer confidence, too.

Costello’s sentiment matches up well with what attendees at last month’s eyefortransport 3PL Summit in Chicago were telling LM. While tonnage is decent, many 3PLs with a trucking and domestic transportation management focus explained that capacity remains available and are hopeful that busy peak season and the coming implementation of the ELD mandate later this year will translate into sustained tonnage gains.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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