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posted on 25 January 2017

Trucking Data Again Mixed In December 2016

Written by Steven Hansen

Truck shipments declined or improved in December - depending on the data source. Trucking, like rail, may be finally showing signs of life.

Analyst Opinion of Truck Transport

I tend to believe the CASS index which shows a moderate improvement year-over-year. The ATA data continues to wander all over the map - and is likely a result of seasonal adjustment issues.

It is also interesting that the current trucking employment pattern remains showing little growth.

ATA Trucking

The American Trucking Associations' (ATA) trucking index decreased 6.2 % in December following a 8.2 % rise in November.

From ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello:

The ups and downs that plagued most of 2016 continued in December. I don't recall a year in recent memory with so many large swings on a month-to-month basis.

Looking ahead, there are some positive signs for truck tonnage. This includes the continued spending by consumers, larger wage gains, and solid home construction. Factory output will continue to be soft, but it should be better this year than last year. And most importantly, the supply chain continues to make progress reducing bloated inventories, which will help truck volumes going forward.

Truck tonnage this month

z truck.jpg

Compared with one year ago, seasonally adjusted tonnage decreased 0.7 %.

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 November, at 4.58, changed little from the previous month's adjusted reading of 4.38. The current TCI level is consistent with FTR's forecasts of steadily-improving trucking conditions heading into 2017. An expectation for stronger demand, along with the mandate for Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), should tighten capacity through 2017, with the Trucking Conditions Index possibly hitting positive double digits by the end of the year.

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

CASS FREIGHT INDEX REPORT

As is often true of a change in trend, it is neither smooth nor linear. The October Cass Freight Shipments Index was up 2.7%, breaking a string of 20 months in negative territory, then November fell back into negative territory, albeit ever so slightly (down 0.5%). Now December—coming in up 3.5%—suggests that the October data was not a false positive but instead the beginning of a more positive trend. 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. 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 overall freight recession we've been in for more than a year and a half in the U.S. is not yet over, it is certainly showing promising signs of thawing.

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



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