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posted on 01 November 2017

Trucking Growth Slows In September 2017

Written by Steven Hansen

Headline data for truck shipments shows slower growth in September.

Analyst Opinion of Truck Transport

I tend to put heavier weight on the CASS index which showed slower growth year-over-year. The ATA data showed a similar trend.

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 shows little growth over the last few years.


ATA Trucking

American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index declined 0.9 % in September, following a 4.7 % gain during August. In September, the index equaled 144.4 (2000=100), down from 145.7 in August. Said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello:

Tonnage gave back some of the solid gain in August, but remains at very high levels despite the weather-related issues during the month. Going forward, rebuilding from those hurricanes and other natural disasters like the wildfires in California will add to freight demand.

September's small setback doesn't worry me. Freight has been improving and I would have thought tonnage last month would have been softer than it was.

ATA Truck tonnage this month

z truck.jpg

Compared with September 2016, the SA index surged 7.4%. In August, the index increased 5.8% on a year-over-year basis. Year-to-date, compared with the same nine months in 2016, the index is up 2.4%.

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 YoY comparisons. Shipments turned positive ten months ago, while Expenditures turned positive nine months ago. 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. The 3.2% YoY increase in the September 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.

[shipments down 0.9% month-over-month and up 3.2% year-over-year]

z truck1.PNG

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




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