March 18, 2014 4:00 PM, EDT
February Truck Tonnage Rises 3.6%
KOMU / Matthew Schmertz

Truck tonnage rose 3.6% in February from the same month last year, despite continuing winter weather challenges, American Trucking Associations reported.

ATA’s advanced seasonally adjusted index stood at a reading of 127.6, reflecting a 2.8% increase in February over January’s performance.

The trucking group said the weather’s severity lessened last month compared with January, giving fleets more operating days.

“It is pretty clear that winter weather had a negative impact on truck tonnage during February,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement. “However, the impact wasn’t as bad, because of the backlog in freight due to the number of storms that hit over the January and February period.”

ATA’s report is consistent with individual carrier commentary in recent weeks that signaled a stronger freight market, independent of weather conditions that were worse in 2014 than the previous winter.

“The fundamentals for truck freight continue to look good,” Costello said, referencing favorable reports such as February factory orders. “Several other economic indicators also snapped back in February. We have a hole to dig out of from such a bad January, but I feel like we are moving in the right direction again. I remain optimistic for 2014.”

The initially reported sequential decline of 4.5% in January was revised to 4.3%. The not seasonally adjusted tonnage index stood at 116.5, ATA said March 18.

Tonnage is 2.3% above last year through the first two months of 2014, marking the strongest such performance for trucking since 1998.