Compared with August 2012, the index rose 6.9 percent, which is the largest year-over-year gain since December 2011. Year-to-date, versus the same period last year, the tonnage index increased 5.0 percent.
“The strength in tonnage continued again in August, with the index increasing in three of the last four months,” said Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist, in a written statement. “The improvement corresponds with a solid gain in manufacturing output during August reported by the Federal Reserve last week.”
“However, tonnage’s strength in recent months, and really through 2013, is probably overstating the robustness of the economy and trucking generally,” Costello continued. “It just so happens that the sectors of the economy that are growing the fastest — in housing starts, auto production and energy output, primarily through hydraulic fracturing — produce heavier than average freight, leading to accelerated growth in tonnage relative to shipments or loads.”
“Truckload industry loads have accelerated the last few months, but are flat for the year, while less-than-truckload shipments are up less than 1.5 percent in 2013,” he noted.