Truck tonnage index increases 2.6% in February

Truck tonnage rose 2.6 percent in February from a year ago, the third consecutive year-over-year gain, American Trucking Associations said yesterday, March 25.

ATA’s seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage index, however, slipped 0.5 percent from January to February. The dip followed a revised 1.9 percent month-to-month gain for January that had originally been reported at 3.1 percent.

For the first two months of this year, seasonally adjusted tonnage was up 3.5 percent over the same period last year, while for all of 2009 the index dropped 8.7 percent, marking the largest annual decrease since 1982.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a television interview aired Thursday that “things are starting to pick up a little and we are cautiously optimistic” that it will continue.

“I continue to hear from motor carriers that both the demand and supply situations are steadily improving,” Costello said in a statement. “Certainly it will take a while to make up the ground lost during the recession, but the industry is on the path to recovery.”

Costello said he expects to see some volatility on a month-to-month basis throughout this year, but the trend line should be moderately higher.

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