Truck Tonnage Climbs 5.9% in August

John Sommers II for Transport Topics
U.S. truck tonnage jumped 5.9% in August, the largest year-over-year gain for the American Trucking Associations index since May — an increase attributed to volatility rather than clear economic growth.

The Sept. 20 report from ATA said the seasonally adjusted index level for the month was 141.8. The record high was 144 in February.

The index compares business activity to a base level of 100 in the year 2000.

“Volatility continues to reign in 2016. This month’s tonnage reading highlights this fact and underscores the difficulty in determining any real or clear trend in truck tonnage,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said.

“What is clear to me is that normal seasonal patterns are not holding in 2016,” he added.

The index also rose over the July reading of 134.2.

The eight-month cumulative performance for the index is a 3.5% gain over the comparable period in 2015, the report said.

The raw index reading before adjustment was 144.7 in August, a 4.8% increase over 138.1 in July.

“Despite a difficult-to-read August, I expect the truck freight environment to be softer than normal as well as continued choppiness until the inventory correction is complete,” Costello said.

“With moderate economic growth forecast, truck freight will improve as progress is made with the inventory overhang,” he added.

In addition to analyzing the weight of goods hauled, ATA also examines in a different report the number of loads transported.