Washington — American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.5% in September after rising 2.1% in August. In September, the index equaled 118.8 (2015=100) versus 118.2 in August.
“The latest gain put tonnage at the highest level since August 2019 and the third highest level on record,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “This is another example of how the contract freight market remains strong despite weakness in the spot market this year. During the third quarter, tonnage increased 0.5% over the second quarter while increasing 5.6% over the same period in 2021. That was the largest quarterly year-over-year increase since the second quarter of 2018.”
August’s increase was revised down slightly from our September 20 press release.
Compared with September 2021, the SA index increased 5.5%, which was the thirteenth straight year-over-year gain. In August, the index was up 6.7% from a year earlier. Year-to-date through September, compared with the same period in 2021, tonnage was up 4%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 119 in September, 3.8% below the August level (123.7). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.93 billion tons of freight in 2021. Motor carriers collected $875.5 billion, or 80.8% 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.