ATA index drops in February

| March 22, 2011

Winter weather apparently took its toll on freight volumes in February, according to the American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index, which decreased 2.9 percent after increasing a revised 3.5 percent in January 2011.

The latest drop put the tonnage index at 113.3 in February, down from 116.6 in January. During December and January together, the index rose 6.1 percent. The not seasonally adjusted index – representing the change in tonnage actually hauled by carriers before seasonal adjustment – dropped 2.8 percent in February from the previous month.
 
Year over year, February tonnage was up 4.2 percent, and for the first two months of the year, tonnage is up 5.9 percent compared with the same two months last year. The base year for the index is 2000.

Winter storms in February probably played a role in the latest reduction, said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello, who added that he wasn’t concerned about the decline.

“Tonnage is not going to increase every month and in general I’m very pleased with freight volumes early this year.” Costello also said that anecdotal reports from carriers are 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.”