Truck Freight Tonnage Dips in February

March 22, 2017 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

The amount of freight hauled by the trucking industry dipped last month but the outlook for the rest of the year looks good, according the American Trucking Associations.

The ATA’s seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index dipped 0.1 percent in February compared with the previous month. The index was 2.6 percent below the same month a year earlier.

The size of the year-over-year decline was the result of an “abnormally strong” February a year ago, said Bob Costello, the ATA’s chief economist.

“Looking ahead, signs remain mostly positive for truck tonnage, including 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,” Costello said.

ATA calculates its tonnage index based on surveys of its membership. In February, the index equaled 138.7, down from 138.9 in January. The all-time high was 142.7 in February 2016.

Compared with February 2016, the index decreased 2.8 percent. In January, the index rose 2.6 percent on a year-over-year basis. Year-to-date, compared with the same two months in 2016, the index is off 0.1 percent. For all of 2016, tonnage was up 2.5 percent.

Trucking hauls about 70 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation. The industry accounts for about $726.4 billion in freight business, or 81.2 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes, according to the ATA.

Related: Used Truck Values Were Soft in January 

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