For-hire truck tonnage fell 0.7 percent in May from April but grew at a slightly brisker pace on a year-over-year basis, 4.1 percent, reflecting a slowing, not stalling, of economic growth.
The month-to-month drop was the second in a row, as tonnage dipped 1.1 percent in April from March and rose 3.5 percent year-over-year. In the first five months of 2012, the American Trucking Associations For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index was 3.8 percent higher than in the same period a year ago.
“The good news is that the decrease in fuel prices will help support retail sales going forward, which is a big part of truck tonnage,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.
In addition to U.S. corporations holding onto cash instead of hiring or buying new equipment, he is also concerned that the European debt crisis and “the so-called U.S. fiscal cliff” could dampen truck volume. Costello expects tonnage growth between 3 percent and 3.9 percent this year.