American Trucking Associations’ advanced for-hire truck tonnage index for May fell to a six-month low and was down 3.6% from a year ago, ATA said Wednesday.
The downturn followed April’s 2.7% decline from a year earlier, ATA said.
The index’s reading of 110.6 was down from 112.1 in April. The not seasonally adjusted index rose 6.8% from April to 117.9, ATA said.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that while May’s numbers were disappointing, they fit with the anecdotal reports from many fleets. “Most carriers indicated that volumes were soft and spotty in May, which was clearly reflected in our index,” he said.
Costello said one of the primary reasons for the continued contractions is that manufacturing activity by weight — but not value — fell again in May. Manufacturing activity fell by 1.4% from a year ago, the seventh consecutive such downturn.
He called the numbers “troubling” and said, “We fully anticipated a contraction, but the fact that it deteriorated may mean that more volatility is in store. Unfortunately, we won’t have a good feel for the direction of volumes until we see June’s data.”
ATA calculates the tonnage each month based on reports by its member trucking companies.