Truck tonnage slips again in September

ATA September 2023 tonnage index

American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) announced Tuesday its 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 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,” says 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.”

[RELATED: Freight market hits rougher patch in August]

Additionally, ATA says August’s increase was unchanged from its Sept. 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, ATA says.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which ATA says 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. 

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