National trucking industry barometer dips in August

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 34 views 

Someone forgot to tell shippers that the recession is over.

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) truck tonnage Index fell 2.7% in August, the largest month-to-month decrease since March 2009. The latest drop lowered the index from 110 (2000=100) in July to 106.9 in August.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 113.5 in August, up 3.2% from the previous month.

Compared with August 2009, SA tonnage climbed 2.9 percent, which was well below July’s 7.4 percent year-over-year gain. Year-to-date, tonnage is up 6.2 percent compared with the same period in 2009.

“We fully anticipate sluggish economic growth for the remainder of this year and the latest tonnage numbers are reflecting that slowdown,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement.

In the ATA statement, Costello said the trucking environment has changed dramatically since the national freight recession began in late 2006.

“While I’d much rather see better tonnage figures, motor carriers can now do better with small increases in demand since so much supply left the industry during the recession,” Costello explained.

According to the ATA, trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing nearly 68% of tonnage carried in 2008 by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 8.8 billion tons of freight in 2009. Motor carriers collected $544.4 billion, or 81.9% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

The trucking sector is important to the Arkansas economy. Arkansas and Nebraska are tops in the country in in terms of percentage of total state employment being in the trucking sector, according to the ATA trends. In Arkansas, 3.7% of all people employed in the private sector worked for a trucking company, with 3.6% for Nebraska. California and Texas have the most people working in the trucking industry in terms of total numbers.

On Sept. 20, the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official marker of U.S. economic cycles, said June 2009 technically marked the end of a recession that began in December 2007.