Index 4.1% Below September 2022
Washington – American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.1% in September after rising 0.2% in August. In September, the index equaled 113.9 (2015=100) compared with 115.2 in August.
“After hitting a bottom in April, tonnage increased in three of the previous four months, gaining a total of 2.2% before September’s drop,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, this freight market remains in flux, and the index contracted by 1.1% in September, which erased half of those gains. Additionally, the year-over-year decrease was the largest drop since November 2020 on a very difficult comparison – September 2022 – which was the previous cycle high. While it is likely a bottom has been hit in truck freight tonnage, there could still be choppy waters ahead as the freight market remains volatile.”
August’s increase was unchanged from our September 19 press release.
Compared with September 2022, the SA index fell 4.1%, which was the seventh straight year-over-year decrease and the largest over that period. In August, the index was down 2.4% from a year earlier.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.5 in September, 6.8% below the August level (120.7). 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 72.6% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.46 billion tons of freight in 2022. Motor carriers collected $940.8 billion, or 80.7% 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.