ATA Truck Tonnage Index Posts Best Ever January
The American Trucking Associations posted their best ever January results for the For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index today, posting an increase of 2.9 percent in January, following a 2.4 percent jump in December.
The ‘advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index’ has surged a minimum of 2.4 percent every month since November 2012, gaining a total of 9.1 percent over that period. As a result, the SA index equaled 125.2 (2000=100) in January versus 121.7 in December, meaning January's index was the highest on record.
Compared with January 2012, the SA index was up a robust 6.5%, the best year-over-year result since December 2011.
"The trucking industry started 2013 with a bang, reflected in the best January tonnage report in five years," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. "While I believe that the overall economy will be sluggish in the first quarter, trucking likely benefited in January from an inventory destocking that transpired late last year, thus boosting volumes more than normal early this year as businesses replenish those lean inventories."
ATA recently revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision. For all of 2012, tonnage was up 2.3%, the same as reported prior to the revision. In 2011, the index was up 5.8%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 122.4 in January, which was 10.7% above the previous month (110.5).
About the Index
Each month, ATA asks its membership the amount of tonnage each carrier hauled, including all types of freight. The indexes are calculated based on those responses. The sample includes an array of trucking companies, ranging from small fleets to multi-billion dollar carriers. When a company in the sample fails, we include its final month of operation and zero it out for the following month, with the assumption that the remaining carriers pick up that freight. As a result, it is close to a net wash and does not end up in a false increase. Nevertheless, some carriers are picking up freight from failures and it may have boosted the index. Due to our correction mentioned above however, it should be limited.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.