ATA tonnage index rises in March

U.S. truck tonnage rose 7.5 percent in March from a year earlier, the fourth straight year-over-year monthly increase, American Trucking Associations said yesterday, April 27.

The increase was the biggest since January 2005. For the first quarter tonnage gained 4.9 percent over last year’s first quarter, ATA said in its monthly seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage index.

The index rose 0.4 percent in March from February, following a revised 0.3 percent downturn in February that had originally been reported as a 0.5 percent decline.

The not seasonally adjusted index — the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment — in March jumped 19.1 percent from February.

“Freight is moving in the right direction and I continue to hear from motor carriers that both the demand and supply situations are steadily improving,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement.

Costello attributed the first-quarter improvement in tonnage to the growing economy and to a slight inventory build after some sectors slashed inventories by too much in 2009.

“For most fleets, freight volumes feel better than reported tonnage because the supply situation, particularly in the truckload sector, is turning quickly,” he said.

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

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