Truck Tonnage Posts 0.4% November Gain, ATA Index Shows

Truck Tonnage
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American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased to 118.9 in November from 118.4 in October, a 0.4% gain.

The gain also marked a 7.6% increase compared with November 2017.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the higher number is another indication that 2018 will be a record-breaking year for the trucking industry.



“The fact that tonnage rose in November after a strong October is impressive,” said Costello in a statement. “It was likely due to some continued pull forward of shipments from China due to the threat of higher tariffs, as well as solid retail sales last month. With continued strength in November, tonnage growth is on pace to be the best year since 1998.”

ATA did revise downward its October tonnage number from 6.3% to an increase of 5%.

Costello said year-to-date compared with the same period last year, tonnage is up 7.2%.

In calculating the index, 100% represents 2015. ATA calculates the tonnage numbers based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s.

Meanwhile, the DAT Freight Index reports that spot market volume and rates slipped in November, but the leadership of the truckload freight marketplace said it is expecting a rebound in December when its newest numbers are announced.

At 379, the November volume was down 2.5% month-to-month from October’s 389, and it was 24% lower than November 2017’s extraordinary seasonal mark of 502.

“Spot market volumes and rates are likely to rise through December as e-commerce deliveries continue to ramp up,” DAT market analyst Peggy Dorf said. “Retailers are offering nearly unlimited free shipping to online customers during the holiday season, boosting orders and adding pressure on freight transportation and logistics.”



In July, the DAT Freight Index hit a record 748. It came at a time when many economists say the U.S. economy and trucking industry were red hot and the country’s second-quarter gross domestic product hit 4.2%, followed by a still strong 3.5% in the third quarter.

The DAT Freight Index represents the volume of spot market loads offered each month on DAT load boards, and 100 on the index represents the average monthly volume in the year 2000.

ACT Research’s For-Hire Trucking Index also showed a decline in its November report. The reading for the month was 48.1, with 50 being neutral. It marked the first time in 27 months that the index slipped into negative territory.



“Volume softened in November after a strong October reading,” said Tim Denoyer, ACT vice president and senior analyst. October’s level of 75 was the highest since March 2011.

“One of our friends in the industry indicated the weaker month was partly because his higher-paid drivers can now afford to take more time off,” he added. “Pre-tariff shipping also appeared to take a breather in November but still seems likely to require some payback early next year.”