Econintersect: The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) trucking index rose again 0.6% in February after gaining a large downwardly revised 1.0% in December. Compared with February 2012, seasonally adjusted tonnage was up 4.2%. Truck tonnage has surged 7.7% in the last 4 months.
It should be noted that jobs grew in February 2013 in the trucking industry. From ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello:
“Fitting with several other key economic indicators, truck tonnage is up earlier than we anticipated this year,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “While I think this is a good sign for the industry and the economy, I’m still concerned that freight tonnage will slow in the months ahead as the federal government sequester continues and households finish spending their tax returns. A little longer term, I think the economy and the industry are poised for a more robust recovery.”
Please note that the ATA revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision. For all of 2012, tonnage was up 2.3%. In 2011, the index was up 5.8%.
Econintersect tries to validate data across data sources. It appears this month that jobs growth says the trucking industry grew 0.4% 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. Not all trucking companies are members of the ATA, and therefore it is unknown if this data is a representative sampling of the trucking industry.