ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index slipped 1 percent in March, following a 0.1 percent decline during February.
In March, the index equaled 137.5 (2000=100), down from 138.8 in February. The all-time high was 142.7 in February 2016.
Compared with March 2016, the seasonally-adjusted index rose 0.7 percent.
In February, the index contracted 2.7 percent on a year-over-year basis.
Year-to-date, compared with the same three months in 2016, the index is up 0.2 percent. For all of 2016, tonnage was up 2.5 percent.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 143.9 in March, which was 14.6 percent above the previous month (125.6).
“Like several other economic indicators, March truck tonnage was likely hurt by some late season winter storms,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Despite last month’s dip, seasonally adjusted tonnage rose 1.2 percent during the first quarter overall from the previous quarter, and increased 0.2 percent from the same quarter last year.
“While I’m not expecting a surge in truck tonnage anytime soon, the signs remain mostly positive for freight, including lower inventory levels, better manufacturing activity, solid housing starts and good consumer spending,” he said. “As a result, we can expect moderate growth going forward.”
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.1 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled nearly 10.5 billion tons of freight in 2015. Motor carriers collected $726.4 billion, or 81.2 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.