June 21st, 2012
Econintersect: The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) trucking index fell 0.7% month-over-month in May 2012 following a 1.1% decline in April. Compared with May 2011, seasonally adjusted tonnage was up 4.1%. Please note that the ATA does not release an unadjusted data series where Econintersect can make an independent evaluation.
It should be noted that jobs grew in May in the trucking industry, and belies this reported decline. In addition, the year-over-year metrics improved this month over April (may be an issue with seasonal adjustment). From the press release:
“Two straight months of contractions is disappointing,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “The drops in tonnage are reflective of the broader economy, which has slowed.”
“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,” he said. As a negative, Costello said he’s concerned about businesses sitting on cash instead of hiring more workers or spending it on capital, both of which would give the economy and tonnage a shot in the arm, as they are worried about Europe and the so-called U.S. fiscal cliff at the end of the year. He also reiterated last month’s comment: “Annualized tonnage growth should be in the 3% to 3.9% range this year.”
Econintersect tries to validate data across data sources. It appears this month that jobs growth says the trucking industry grew 0.3%.