American Shipper

Flat tire: Trucking index hits 5-year low

Flat tire: Trucking index hits 5-year low

Trucking companies have been traveling down a bumpy road in recent months. In October they hit a big pothole.

   The American Trucking Associations said its advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage index decreased 3 percent in October, marking the fourth consecutive month-to-month drop. The index fell 0.8 percent in September and 1.9 percent in August. In October, the seasonally adjusted tonnage index equaled 108.9 (2000 = 100), its lowest level since October 2003.

   “October should be the busiest month of the year, but instead this October was a fizzle,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello, who noted the decline highlights how bad the U.S. economy is. ATA said trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing nearly 70 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods.

   October is typically a busy month for motor carriers as retailers begin to take delivery of products for the holiday season. But “the latest truck tonnage drop suggests that retailers are very pessimistic for the holiday sales season,” Costello added.