Econintersect: The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) trucking index fell 0.2% in April after rising 0.9% in March. Compared with April 2012, seasonally adjusted tonnage was up 4.3%. Truck tonnage year-to-date is up 4.0% over 2012.
It should be noted that trucking jobs grew in April 2013 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello:
“The slight drop in tonnage during April fit with trends from other industries that drive a significant amount of truck freight, such as manufacturing and housing, noting that in April, compared with the previous month, factory output slipped 0.4% while housing starts plunged 16.5%.”
After rising significantly late last year and in January of this year, truck tonnage has been bouncing around a narrow, but elevated band over the last three months. It is also worth noting that the year-over-year comparisons are much better than expected just a few months ago and I’m hearing good comments about freight so far in May.
Econintersect tries to validate data across data sources. It appears this month that jobs growth says the trucking industry grew 0.9% month-over-month (red line) and trucking jobs indexed to Jan 2000 = 100 is continuing to show steady improvement (blue line). Please note using BLS employment data in real time is risky, as their data is normally backward adjusted significantly. However, long term trends are showing a steady growth.
Please note that the ATA does not release an unadjusted data series where Econintersect can make an independent evaluation. 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.