The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has announced at 2.9% decline in February tonnage hauled. This is a seasonally adjusted index. The ATA data is in conflict with other indicators such as Ceridan-UCLA (diesel usage) and Ports of LA / Long Beach which show a less good but still improving YoY.
Econintersect believes there may be issues with the ATA seasonal adjustment factors. The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 102 in February, down 2.8% from the previous month. Historically, February is one of the lowest transport haulage months of the year.
Compared with February 2010, tonnage climbed 4.2%, although this was smaller than January’s 7.6% year-over-year increase. Through the first two months of the year, tonnage is up 5.9% compared with the same two months last year.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that the winter storms in February probably played a role in the latest reduction and that he wasn’t concerned about the decrease. “Tonnage is not going to increase every month and in general I’m very pleased with freight volumes early this year.” Costello also stated that the anecdotal reports from motor carriers are very encouraging. “I’m hearing a significant amount of positive news from fleets and that the largest concern continues to be the price of diesel fuel, not freight levels.”
Container Counts: Exports Show Little Improvement by Steven Hansen
Rail Traffic Improves in February 2011 – But Less Good by Steven Hansen
Diesel Consumption: Predicting the Economic Effects of Weather by Steven Hansen