The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 0.9 percent to 123.5 in March, after decreasing 0.7 percent (revised) in February to 122.3.
Tonnage has now increased in four of the last five months. Since November 2012, the index is up 7.6 percent. The highest level on record was 124.3, in December 2011.
Compared with March 2012, the index was up 3.8 percent, beating February’s 3.1 percent year-over-year gain. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2012, the tonnage index is up 3.9 percent.
“Fitting with the expectation for solid gross domestic product growth in the first quarter, tonnage was strong in March and the quarter overall,” said Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist, in a written statement. “At 3.9 percent year-over-year growth, the first quarter increase was the best since the final quarter 2011.”
“Expect freight tonnage will slow in the months ahead as the federal government sequester continues and households finish spending their tax returns,” Costello continued. “The good news for tonnage is housing starts are growing and energy production is good — both of which generates heavy freight. However, these two sectors alone won’t be enough to keep the overall index growing at a 3.9 percent clip in the second quarter.”