The ATA is reporting a 2.9% decline in truck tonnage in February, however, their Chief Economist says it is not a concern as tonnage data was impacted by the winter storms (via the ATA):
Arlington, Va. – The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 2.9% in February after increasing a revised 3.5% in January 2011. The latest drop put the SA index at 113.3 (2000=100) in February. In January, the SA index equaled 116.6. During December 2010 and January 2011, the SA tonnage index jumped a total of 6.1%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 102 in February, down 2.8% from the previous month.
Compared with February 2010, tonnage climbed 4.2%, although this was smaller than January’s 7.6% year-over-year increase. Through the first two months of the year, tonnage is up 5.9% compared with the same two months last year.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that the winter storms in February probably played a role in the latest reduction and that he wasn’t concerned about the decrease. “Tonnage is not going to increase every month and in general I’m very pleased with freight volumes early this year.” Costello also stated that the anecdotal reports from motor carriers are very encouraging. “I’m hearing a significant amount of positive news from fleets and that the largest concern continues to be the price of diesel fuel, not freight levels.”