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posted on 24 December 2016

Trucking Data Again Mixed In November 2016

Written by Steven Hansen

Truck shipments declined or improved in November - depending on the data source. Trucking, like rail, may be in contraction - but year-over-year growth is likely trending up.

Analyst Opinion of Truck Transport

This month it is agreed between the data sources that trucking sector is in contraction year-over-year. It was not agreed whether November was better than October. I tend to believe the CASS index which shows a moderate decline month-over-month as it is more consistent with the rail data. The ATA data defies logic - and is likely a result of seasonal adjustment issues.

It is also interesting that the current trucking employment pattern resembles the period before the 2001 recession.

This situation is mirroring the trends in wholesale trade and manufacturing - which all remain in contraction. Prior to the New Normal, this would have indicated a recession - in 2016 it seems only to be indicating very weak near term economic conditions.

ATA Trucking

The American Trucking Associations' (ATA) trucking index decreased 0.3 % in October following a 6.3 % decline in September.

From ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello:

2016 has been an interesting year for truck tonnage, with monthly gains and decreases as large as I can remember, which suggests seasonality is different this year. November's substantial increase continued with the seesaw pattern that has persisted for much of the year.

While I think the November gain overstates the strength in the freight market, I do believe we are seeing some improvement that will continue into 2017. Retail sales are good, the housing market is solid, and the inventory overhang throughout the supply chain is coming down, all of which will help support truck freight volumes in 2017,

Truck tonnage this month

z truck.jpg

Compared with one year ago, seasonally adjusted tonnage increased 5.7 %.

Econintersect tries to validate ATA truck data across data sources. It appears this month that jobs growth says the trucking industry employment levels were up month-over-month - but insignificantly. Please note using BLS employment data in real time is risky, as their data is normally backward adjusted (sometimes significantly).


This data series is not transparent and therefore cannot be relied on. Please note that the ATA does not release an unadjusted data series (although they report the unadjusted value each month - but do not report revisions to this data) where Econintersect can make an independent evaluation. The data is apparently subject to significant backward revision. 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.

source: ATA

FTR's Trucking Conditions Index for October Pulls Back Ahead of Expected Market Improvement

FTR's Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for October, at a reading of 2.84, continued the short-term pullback ahead of expected capacity tightening in 2017. While current readings are in low positive territory, the index remains on course to reflect improving conditions for carriers as capacity tightens from regulations being implemented. This will improve pricing and margins for trucking companies through next year. The Trucking Conditions Index is forecast to reach its peak in late 2017 or early 2018.

source: http://www.ftrintel.com/news/latest-tci/index.php

CASS FREIGHT INDEX REPORT

After a promising Shipments Index in October broke the string of 20 months in negative territory, November fell back into negative territory, albeit slightly. We have seen a wide range of results in the different modes: from continued volume growth in parcel and airfreight driven by e-commerce, to a sequential improvement in truck tonnage, to less bad rail and barge volume overall. Although it is far too early to make a 'change in trend' call, data is beginning to suggest that the consumer is finally starting to spend a little, and that with the recent surge in the price of crude the industrial economy's rate of deceleration has eased. If the winter of the current year-and-a-half freight recession in the U.S. is not over, it is certainly showing increasing signs of thawing.

Source: http://www.cassinfo.com/Transportation-Expense-Management/Supply-Chain-Analysis/Cass-Freight-Index.aspx



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