The ATA reported a “miniscule” 0.3% decline in truck tonnage for the month of September. Though minor, the declines and weak recovery in trucking are not dissimilar from weak trends we’ve seen in other transport related industries such as Air Cargo Transportation and the railroads. The recovery in transports is meager at best, despite what Bob Costello notes below. The ATA reports:
ARLINGTON, VA — The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.3 percent in September, after increasing 2.1 percent in both July and August. The latest decline lowered the SA index to 103.9 (2000=100). The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 107.9 in September, up 2 percent from August.
Compared with September 2008, SA tonnage fell 7.3 percent, which was the best year-over-year showing since November 2008. In August, the index was down 7.5 percent from a year earlier.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that the latest reading fits with the premise that the recovery will be moderate and choppy. “The trucking industry should not be alarmed by the very small decrease in September,” Costello noted. “We took two steps forward in July and August and this was a miniscule step backward.” He added that the industry should be prepared for ups and downs in the months ahead, but the general trend should be modest improvement. “Between most economic indicators recovering and less of an overhang in inventories, I’m confident that the industry is still on the road to recovery.”