Monthly tonnage index down 1.1%, up year over year

April Tonnage 20graphThe American Trucking Associations on Tuesday, May 24, announced that its advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.1 percent in April after increasing 0.6 percent in March. The latest drop put the adjusted index at 118.7, down from March’s level of 120.

Compared with April 2011, the adjusted index was up 3.5 percent, better than March’s 3.1 percent increase. Year-to-date compared with the same period last year, tonnage was up 3.8 percent.

The nonseasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 116.9 in April, which was 5.5 percent below the previous month.

“While April’s decrease was a little disappointing, the March gain turned out to be stronger than originally thought,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “The ups and downs so far this year are similar to other economic indicators.”

Costello said that while April’s decrease is just one month, it also matches with an economy that is likely to grow slightly slower in the second quarter than in the first quarter, and that the industry should not expect the rate of growth seen over the last couple of years when tonnage grew 5.8 percent in both 2010 and 2011

“I continue to expect tonnage to moderate from the pace over the last two years,” Costello said. “Annualized growth in the 3 percent to 3.9 percent range seems more likely.”

ATA calculates the index based on surveys from its members. The baseline year is 2000.