Truck Tonnage Rises For First Time Since August

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Truck tonnage increased 5.7% in November versus one year ago, the first year-over-year increase since August in the American Trucking Associations monthly index in 2016, a sign that the trucking industry could be turning a corner and heading towards a better 2017.

Sequentially, tonnage increased 8.2% from October, reversing two months of declines in the figure.

The preliminary seasonally adjusted tonnage index for the month was 142.4. In August 2016, the final index figure was 140.8, before falling to 131.6 in the early autumn. The number is closer to the record high of 144 in February 2016.

The index uses a base level of 100 for freight activity in the year 2000.

Year-to-date, tonnage was up 2.8% as compared with the first eleven months of 2015.

“2016 has been an interesting year for truck tonnage, with monthly gains and decreases as large as I can remember, which suggests seasonality is different this year,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “November’s substantial increase continued with the seesaw pattern that has persisted for much of the year.”

The nonseasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets, equaled 135.9 in November, up 1.7% from October

“While I think the November gain overstates the strength in the freight market, I do believe we are seeing some improvement that will continue into 2017. Retail sales are good, the housing market is solid, and the inventory overhang throughout the supply chain is coming down, all of which will help support truck freight volumes in 2017,” Costello said.