August 22, 2013
American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index slipped 0.4 percent in July after edging 0.1 percent higher in June.
The latest drop was the first since April. In July, the SA index equaled 125.4 versus 125.9 in June. June 2013 is the highest level on record. Compared with July 2012, the SA index increased 4.7 percent, which is robust, although the smallest year-over-year gains since April. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2012, the tonnage index is up 4.7 percent, ATA says.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 129.6 in July, which was 3 percent above the previous month (125.9), ATA says.
“After gaining a total of 2.2 percent in May and June, it isn’t surprising that tonnage slipped a little in July,” says Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “The decrease corresponds with the small decline in manufacturing output during July reported by the Federal Reserve last week.”
“Despite the small reprieve in July, we expect solid tonnage numbers during the second half of the year as sectors that generate heavy freight, like oil and gas and autos, continue with robust growth,” says Costello. “Home construction generates a significant amount of tonnage, but as mortgage rates and home prices rise, growth in housing starts will decelerate slightly in the second half of the year, but still be a positive for truck freight volumes. Tonnage gains in the second half of the year are likely to overstate the strength in the economy as these heavy freight sectors continue to outperform the economy overall.”