The American Trucking Associations reported that its seasonally adjusted leading index of for-hire truck tonnage rose 2.4% in March after rising 0.7% in February. In March, the index stood at 118.8 (2015=100) against 116.1 in February.
“It is important to note that ATA’s for-hire tonnage data is dominated by contract freight with minimal quantities of spot market loads,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. in a press release. “And clearly contract freight was strong in March, posting the biggest sequential gain since May 2020. March was also the eighth consecutive month-over-month improvement, with an overall increase of 7.4 % over this period.
“During the first quarter, the index was up 2.4% from the last quarter of 2021 and 2.6% from a year earlier. Although there may be some recent weakness on the spot market, for-hire freight tonnage remains strong and is only limited by the lack of capacity—both drivers and equipment—in contracted fleets,” Costello added.
February’s increase was revised upwards from the group’s March 22 report. Compared with March 2021, the SA index rose 3.8%, the seventh consecutive year-over-year gain and the largest during this period.
In February, the index was up 3.2% from a year earlier. In 2022, year-to-date and compared to the same period in 2021, tonnage is up 2.6%. The non-seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in the tonnage actually transported by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, stood at 123.9 in March, ie 17.9% above the February level (105.1). In the calculation of the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.
The group notes that trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, accounting for 72.5% of the tonnage moved by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks transported 10.23 billion tonnes of freight in 2020. Motor carriers collected $732.3 billion, or 80.4% of the total revenue generated by all modes of transport.