ATA truck tonnage index jumps in January

U.S. truck tonnage rose 5.7 percent in January from a year earlier, the second consecutive year-over-year monthly increase, the American Trucking Associations reported today, Feb. 24.

ATA’s seasonally adjusted for-hire  truck tonnage index rose 3.1 percent in January from December, following a 2.1 percent gain in December from November.

January’s year-to-year gain marked the best performance for January since 2004-2005. The year-to-year gain in December had been 6.6%.

For all of 2009, the tonnage index was down 8.7 percent (adjusted from a previously reported 8.3 percent drop). That was the largest annual decline since 12.3 percent in 1982.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the latest tonnage number, combined with reports from carriers, shows both the industry and the economy are in a recovery mode.

“While I don’t expect tonnage to continue growing as robustly as it did in January, the industry is finally moving in the right direction,” Costello said. “Although there are still risks that could throw the rebound off track, the likelihood of that happening continues to diminish,” he said in a statement.

ATA calculates the tonnage each month based on reports by its member trucking companies.