Truck tonnage rose 5.7 percent last year compared with 2009, helping tonnage to recovery from an 8.7 percent plunge, the American Trucking Associations said.
The ATA’s seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 2.2 percent in December from the previous month to its highest level since September 2008.
Actual non-adjusted tonnage was down 1 percent in December, ATA said.
The uptick in the adjusted index reversed a decline of 0.6 percent in November and reflected stronger than expected post-Thanksgiving volumes at some carriers.
“Fleets continue to tell me that freight volumes are very choppy — up one week, but down the next,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “That is a trend that is likely to continue this year as the economy is not growing across the board yet.”
The increase measured by ATA also showed up in a jump in TransCore’s North American Freight Index, which measures truckload spot market activity.
Spot market volume surged 55 percent year-over-year in December, according to TransCore, as retailers kept trucks moving right through the holiday season.
ATA’s Costello said he expects truck freight tonnage to grow modestly in the first half of 2011 and accelerate in the latter half of the year and into 2012.
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