posted on 20 April 2016
Truck shipments are reported down in March - with one index showing year-over-year growth whilst the other showing year-over-year contraction.
The American Trucking Associations' (ATA) trucking index fell 4.5 % in March, following a revised 7.2 % improvement in February. The decrease is the largest monthly contraction for the index since September 2012 (-5.3%).
From ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello:
Truck tonnage this month
Compared with one year ago, seasonally adjusted tonnage increased 2.2 %.
Econintersect tries to validate ATA truck data across data sources. It appears this month that jobs growth says the trucking industry employment levels were marginally down month-over-month. Please note using BLS employment data in real time is risky, as their data is normally backward adjusted significantly.
FTR's Trucking Conditions February Reflect Slower Growth in Truck Loadings for 2016
CASS FREIGHT INDEX REPORT
Freight shipments slowed to only a 1.4 percent rise in March, following an 8.3 percent jump in February. Expenditures for freight declined 1.0 percent in March—reversing a portion of the 6.3 percent increase in February. Manufacturing and building construction have been on an upward trend and have just started showing up in the supply chain.
The March freight shipments index rose 1.4 percent, but still remains 1.5 percent below the same month a year ago. March shipments have grown at a slower pace than each February for the last couple of years, so this is not unexpected. The March 2016 index is still 6.2 percent lower than the December 2015 index, indicating that the plummet in January is going to take quite some time to dig out of. On an average basis, the first quarter of 2016 was 3.0 percent lower than the same period in 2015. The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) PMI index continued to move up in March, posting a 4.6 percent rise. Notably, the index has just passed back over the 50 index level, indicating growth, for the first time since August 2015. This is the third consecutive month of growth and is a sign that manufacturing may finally be recovering from its slump. High inventories are still a big concern and will moderate future growth. Both the New Orders and the Order Backlog sub-indexes increased, 13.2 and 5.2 percent respectively. This should translate to higher production in April. One cautionary indicator though: the manufacturing sector cut 29,000 jobs in March. Railroad shipments picked up remarkably in March with a 22.2 percent rise in carloads and a 19.2 percent rise in intermodal shipments. These follow double digit drops in February. March figures for truck tonnage are not yet available. Expect sluggish but sustained growth in freight.
Although the data for trucking does not correlate, we can assume trucking growth is sluggish and is beginning to trend downward.
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