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May 25, 2017

American truck tonnage index slipped 2.5% in April

The American Trucking Associations' (ATA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index slipped 2.5% in April, following a 1.1% decline during March. In April, the index equaled 134 (2000=100), down from 137.4 in March. The all-time high was 142.7 in February 2016.

Compared with April 2016, the index fell 1.8%. In March, the index rose 0.6% on a year-over-year basis. Year-to-date, compared with the same four months in 2016, the index is off 0.3%. For all of 2016, tonnage was up 2.5%.

"I have to admit that April's contraction is a bit surprising, especially considering the anecdotal reports I've been hearing from fleets regarding freight levels," said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. "It's not necessarily that tonnage levels fell in April that is surprising, but the size of the decrease. One explanation is that housing starts fell substantially in April as well, and residential construction generates heavier truck freight.

"Despite the fact that tonnage is down a total of 3.6% over the last three months, I still expect moderate growth going forward as key sectors of the economy continue to improve slowly," he said.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership.

Source: ATA