Index 3.8% below November 2019
Arlington, Virginia – American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.7% in November after falling 5% in October. In November, the index equaled 112.2 (2015=100) compared with 108.3 in October.
“The 2020 seesaw pattern continued in November as typical seasonality is not holding this year,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “It was a nice gain, but the rebound was not enough to make up for October’s drop. Robust retail freight, helped by consumer spending, especially e-commerce, and very lean inventories helped truck tonnage last month. Strong single-family housing starts are also aiding freight tonnage, but lackluster restaurant, manufacturing and energy sectors remain a drag. I expect these softer industries to benefit from widespread COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021.”
October’s decrease was revised up to 5% from our November 24 press release.
Compared with November 2019, the SA index contracted 3.8%, the eighth straight year-over-year decline. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2019, tonnage is down 3.8%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 110.5 in November, 4.7% below the October level (116). 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 72.5% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.84 billion tons of freight in 2019. Motor carriers collected $791.7 billion, or 80.4% 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.