The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Trucking Tonnage Index increased 1.4 percent month-over-month in September, which matched August’s gain.
Compared with September 2012, the index rose 8.4 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 5.4 percent.
“I continue to be pleasantly surprised on the strength of truck tonnage,” said Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist, in a written statement. “I attribute a part of tonnage’s robustness to the sectors of the economy that are growing fastest, like housing construction, auto production and energy output.”
“While tonnage is likely running ahead of overall economic growth, perhaps the economy is stronger than many believe,” Costello continued. “The index has now increased in four of the last five months and the year-over-year growth rate has accelerated.”
“However, the government shutdown served as a headwind in the fourth quarter,” he noted.
Separately, Costello said at a panel discussion sponsored by Freightliner Trucks that trucking fleets have been adjusting to continued tightness in the driver market caused by increasing pay and hiring new drivers.
“While the driver shortage is generally confined to only certain segments of the trucking industry, it is having real impacts in how fleets recruit and retain their drivers,” he explained. “Fleets in all segments of trucking have told us they are having a more difficult time finding qualified drivers than they were a year ago. As a result, more fleets are considering hiring drivers straight out of driver training programs and nearly three-quarters of those we surveyed plan to increase pay or have already done so.”