Econintersect: The way the American Trucking Association releases its data, Econintersect cannot do meaningful additional analysis to confirm and add to the trade association’s press release – it’s May 2011 press release stated in part:
The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 2.3% in May after decreasing a revised 0.6% in April 2011. April’s drop was slightly less than the 0.7% ATA reported on May 25, 2011.
The latest drop put the SA index at 112.3 (2000=100) in May, down from the April level of 114.9. The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 115.9 in May, which was 2% above the previous month.
Compared with May 2010, SA tonnage climbed 2.7%, although this was the smallest year-over-year gain since February 2010. In April, the tonnage index was 4.8% above a year earlier.
Econintersect points out that rail traffic increase in transporting on-road trailers is up 4.3%, and it is likely that long range trailers are being hauled to a larger degree on railroads and not over-the-road. A drop in tonnage by trucks may not be indicative of contracting demand.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello stated:
Truck tonnage over the last four months shows that the economy definitely hit a soft patch this spring. With our index falling in three of the last four months totaling 3.7%, it is clear why there is some renewed anxiety over the economic recovery. With oil prices falling and some of the Japan-related auto supply problems ending, I believe this was a soft patch and not a slide back into recession, and we should see better, but not great, economic activity in the months ahead.