Truck tonnage hit three-year low last year

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Updated Jan 31, 2024
ATA truck tonnage chart for December 2023

Trucks hauled less freight in 2023 than in 2022, according to the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) recently published For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index.

The seasonally-adjusted index showed a 2.1% increase in tonnage hauled in December over November, ATA reports, with the index reading 115.7 compared to 113.3 in November. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says tonnage remained in a recession for the year despite the stronger finish.

“For-hire contract freight, which is what comprises our index, in December was 2.6% above the trough in April, he says. “For the entire year, tonnage contracted 1.7% from 2022 levels. This makes 2023 the worst annual reading since 2020 when the index fell 4% from 2019, and the only year since 2020 that tonnage contracted.”

Compared with December 2022, the index fell 0.5%, which was the 10th straight year-over-year decrease, albeit the smallest over that period. In November, the index was down 1.6% from a year earlier, ATA adds.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 110.7 in December, 1.9% below the November's level (112.8). 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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