Truck Tonnage Rises 2.2% in March as Freight Economy Continues Mixed Pattern


Truck tonnage rose 2.2% in March on a year-over-year basis, reflecting a slow economic growth trajectory and mixed freight trends, American Trucking Associations reported.

The advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index level was 137.6, retreating as expected from all-time record of 144 that was recorded in February. The 4.5% month-to-month decline was the largest drop since September 2012.

“The freight economy continues to be mixed, with housing and consumer spending generally giving support to tonnage, while new fracking activity and factory output being drags,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “In addition, freight volumes are softer than the overall economy because of the current inventory overhang throughout the supply chain.”

Costello said he expected the sequential tonnage index would drop, noting that “These things tend to correct, and March took back more than half of the surprisingly large gain in February.”

In the first quarter, tonnage rose 3.9%, due in large part to the 8.6% year-over-year gain in February.

Actual tonnage hauled, as measured in the not seasonally adjusted index, was 142.1 in March, 10.2% better than February and 2.5% on a year-over-year basis.