Trucking tonnage drops in October
The American Trucking Associations said its advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.3 percent in October, after rising 1.5 percent in September.
The October index was 1.5 percent lower than a year earlier, and year-to-date, the tonnage index was 2.2 percent lower than during the same period in 2006.
“With only two months of data remaining for the year, the 2007-decrease could be the largest annual drop since a 5.2 percent reduction in 2000,” the group said. This year’s downturn follows a 1.7 percent fall in the index in 2006.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the October tonnage reading illustrates continued softness in truck tonnage. Although the weak freight environment is broad based, the group said the housing sector was a significant contributor to the decline and continues to affect flatbed carriers.
Provided the U.S. economy doesn’t slip into a recession, Costello expects freight levels will remain soft until the second half of 2008.
“We anticipate truck freight volumes to be lackluster for the next couple of quarters,” Costello said. “There is nothing on the horizon that points to an acceleration in truck freight.”
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy because it represents nearly 70 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods.
Trucks hauled 10.7 billion tons of freight in 2006. Motor carriers collected $645.6 billion, or 83.8 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.