Truck Tonnage Rises in January, ATA Says

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January truck tonnage jumped up smartly by 2.6% compared with the same month in 2016, American Trucking Associations said Feb. 21.

The seasonally adjusted tonnage index also rose by 2.9% relative to the December reading.

“The freight economy is starting to show some signs of life and January’s truck tonnage numbers are a good step forward,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Hopefully the ups and downs in truck tonnage during 2016 will not be as pronounced in 2017.”

The preliminary, seasonally adjusted January index number was 138.8. Costello’s index uses business activity from the year 2000 as a base level of 100.

The December figure was revised to 134.9 and in January 2016 it was 135.3. The record high for the index is 142.7 from February 2016.

“Looking ahead, the most recent positive sign for truck tonnage is the large drop in the inventory-to-sales ratio during December. The decrease put inventories throughout the supply chain, relative to sales, to the lowest level in two years. There is no doubt that the inventory glut was a drag on truck freight volumes last year,” Costello said.

For all of 2016, tonnage rose by 2.5%.

Trucking hauls about 70% of the nation’s total freight tonnage, and about 81% of goods as measured by their value, according to ATA statistics.