American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.7% in May after falling 0.6% in April, the organization reports. In May, the index equaled 113.7 (2015=100) compared with 114.5 in April. April’s reading was revised down slightly to -0.6% from ATA’s May 18 press release. Compared with May 2020, the SA index rose 3.7%, which was preceded by a 6.7% year-over-year jump in April. Year-to-date, compared with the same five months in 2020, tonnage is up 0.4%.
“Tonnage, despite falling slightly over the last two months, remains well above the lows of last year,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “This is no small deal considering that truck tonnage fell significantly less than many other indicators during the depths of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.
“One freight segment that is helping tonnage is gasoline as demand for travel, both commuting and vacation related, picks up,” he said. “I’m also expecting retail freight to remain robust as inventories are at historic lows. As retail stocks are rebuilt, it will boost freight. As has been the case for some time, trucking’s biggest challenges are not on the demand side, but on the supply side, including difficulty finding qualified drivers.”
The non-seasonally-adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 113.8 in May, 0.2% below the April level (114). 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.