Truck tonnage in the U.S. dropped 5.8 percent in September compared with the same period a year earlier, the American Trucking Associations said in a report Tuesday.
The September decrease marked the trade group’s first year-over-year decline in its seasonally-adjusted truck tonnage index since October 2015, when the decline was just 0.7 percent.
“Adjusting for the larger ups and downs this year, as well as talking with many fleets, I currently see a softer than normal freight environment, which is likely to continue until the inventory correction is complete,” said Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist.
In September, the index fell to 132.7, down from 140. in August. The all-time high was reached in February.
As fleet owners continue to be concerned about freight demand and dropping profits, industry research firm FTR is reporting that net trailer orders for September dropped 16 percent from the prior month ago to 11,800. They were off 66 percent compared with September of a year ago.
“The lower order rates in September is consistent with a cooling market in 2017,” said Dan Ake, FTR vice president of commercial orders. “Fleets are uncertain and nervous about freight demand and declining profits. They are not going to place huge orders covering demand for the next 12 months, as they have the last two years.”