Econintersect: The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) trucking index fell sharply 3.8% in October - and ATA backward revisions now have the trucking index falling 4.7% over the last 3 months. The index now is at the lowest level since May 2011. Compared with October 2011, seasonally adjusted tonnage was down 2.1% - a contraction year-over-year.
It should be noted that jobs grew in October in the trucking industry. From the press release:
“Clearly Hurricane Sandy negatively impacted October’s tonnage reading,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “However, it is impossible for us to determine the exact impact.”
"Costello noted that a large drop in fuel shipments into the affected area likely put downward pressure on October’s tonnage level since fuel is heavy freight, in addition to reductions in other freight.
“I’d expect some positive impact on truck tonnage as the rebuilding starts in the areas impacted by Sandy, although that boost may only be modest in November and December,” he said. “Excluding the Hurricane impacts, I still think truck tonnage is decelerating along with factory output and consumer spending on tangible-goods."
Econintersect tries to validate data across data sources. It appears this month that jobs growth says the trucking industry grew 0.3% month-over-month (red line) and trucking jobs indexed to Jan 2000 = 100 is continuing to show steady improvement (blue line). Please note using BLS employment data in real time is risky, as their data is normally backward adjusted significantly. However, long term trends are showing a steady growth.
Please note that the ATA does not release an unadjusted data series where Econintersect can make an independent evaluation.