The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 3.8 percent in October after falling 0.4 percent in September.
The ATA says October’s drop was the third consecutive, totaling 4.7 percent. As a result, the SA index equaled 113.7 in October, the lowest level since May 2011. Compared with Oct. 2011, the SA index was off 2.1 percent, the first year-over-year decrease since Nov. 2009. Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage was up 2.9 percent.
“Clearly Hurricane Sandy negatively impacted October’s tonnage reading,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, it is impossible for us to determine the exact impact.”
Costello notes a large drop in fuel shipments into Sandy’s affected area likely put downward pressure on October’s tonnage level since fuel is heavy freight, in addition to reductions in other freight.
“I’d expect some positive impact on truck tonnage as the rebuilding starts in the areas impacted by Sandy, although that boost may only be modest in November and December,” he says. “Excluding the Hurricane impacts, I still think truck tonnage is decelerating along with factory output and consumer spending on tangible-goods.”
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 123.7 in October, which was 7.7 percent above the previous month, ATA says.