Arlington, Virginia — American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.3% in all of 2019, about half the annual gain in 2018 (6.7%), for the tenth straight annual increase.
The advanced SA For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 4% in December after falling 3.4% in November. In December, the index equaled 118.2 (2015=100) compared with 113.6 in November.
“Last year was not a terrible year for for-hire truck tonnage, and despite the increase at the end of the year, 2019 was very uneven for the industry,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The overall annual gain masks the very choppy freight environment throughout the year, which made the market feel worse for many fleets. In December, strong housing starts helped advance the index forward.”
It is important to note that ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight.
November’s reading was revised down slightly compared with our December press release.
Compared with December 2018, the SA index rose 3%, which was preceded by a 2% year-over-year drop in November.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.7 in December, 2% below the November level (115.1). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.