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posted on 19 September 2017

Trucking Data Improves In August 2017

Written by Steven Hansen

Headline data for truck shipments improved in August.

Analyst Opinion of Truck Transport

I tend to put heavier weight on the CASS index which continues to show 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 and a smaller share of shipping now going to ATA members.

It should be pointed out that although the data seems to be improving, it is nothing to write home about.

It is also interesting that the current trucking employment pattern is now showing a short term improvement trend which supports the CASS index.


ATA Trucking

American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 7.1% in August, following a 0.5% gain during July. In August, the index equaled 149 (2000=100), up from 139.1 in July. Said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello:

Tonnage was stronger than most other economic indicators in August and more than I would have expected,. However, prep work for the hurricanes and better port volumes likely gave tonnage an added boost during the month.

I suspect that short-term service disruptions from when the storms made landfall, as well as the normal ebb and flow of freight, could make September weaker and tonnage will smooth out to more moderate gains, on average.

ATA Truck tonnage this month

[no image provided by ATA this month].

z truck.jpg

Compared with August 2016, the SA index surged 8.2%. In July, the index rose 2.7% on a year-over-year basis. Year-to-date, compared with the same eight months in 2016, the index is up 2.1%.

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 declined month-over-month. 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


CASS FREIGHT INDEX REPORT

Both the Shipments and Expenditures Indexes extended their run of positive comparisons. Shipments turned positive nine months ago, while Expenditures turned positive eight months ago. This is in part because of slightly easier comparisons, and in part because of higher oil prices they were less strong in August. Throughout the U.S. economy, we are continuing to see a growing number of data points suggesting that the economy continues to get incrementally better. Some data points are simply less bad and a few of them are much better (airfreight, DAT Barometer). We don't want to overlook, however, that some are also suggesting deceleration (rail). The 3.9% YoY increase in the August Cass shipments index is yet another data point which confirms that the first positive indication in October (before the election) was a change in trend. In fact, it now looks as if the October 2016 Cass Shipments Index, which broke a string of 20 months in negative territory, was one of the first indications that a recovery in freight had begun.

z truck1.PNG

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




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