The month-to-month decline in for-hire truck tonnage slowed in August, and tonnage levels rose more strongly from a year ago compared with July.
The American Trucking Association’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index declined 0.2 percent from July to August, compared with a revised 0.8 percent drop in July. Year-over-year, the seasonally adjusted tonnage index rose 5.2 percent last month, compared with a 4.5 percent increase in July from the same month in 2010.
“Freight has been going sideways for much of this year, but it isn’t falling significantly either,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said Tuesday. That suggests the U.S. economy “just might skirt” another recession, he said.
ATA’s non-adjusted index, which reflects the change in tonnage hauled by carriers, increased 10.9 percent from July and 9.1 percent from a year ago.
“Both our channel checks and ATA's commentary suggest that truckload supply and demand remain fairly balanced despite a weak peak shipping season,” said Peter Nesvold, equity analyst with investment research firm Jefferies & Co. “We continue to forecast tonnage growth of 3 percent to 5 percent for full-year 2011."
Trucking companies are hauling at their capacity, Costello said. “In part, this is due to less industry supply,” he said. “The number of trucks operated by the truckload industry is still down about 12 percent from the height in late 2006, yet tonnage levels are about the same as in late 2006.”