Truck tonnage index falls 3.1% in February

Trucking tonnage fell about 3 percent in February, according to a report by the American Trucking Associations.
The seasonally adjusted truck tonnage index for February decreased approximately 3.1 percent, the American Trucking Association (ATA) said Tuesday.

The decrease followed a gain of 1.3 percent in January. The index equaled about 131.6 tons, which is the lowest level since September 2014, ATA said. Nonseasonaly adjusted numbers, which is the tonnage fleets hauled before any seasonal adjustment, totaled about 118.9 tons in February and is a 6.4 percent decrease from January's 127 tons.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the decrease seen in February's truck tonnage isn't a surprise. “Retail sales, manufacturing output and housing starts were all off during the month, so the tonnage decline fits with those indicators,” Costello said. 'The surprise would have been had tonnage increased with all of those sectors falling.”

Winter weather across the country in February also impacted truck tonnage negatively, and other industries that drive tonnage such as manufacturing, housing starts and retail, Costello said.

Trucking represents approximately 69.1 percent of all tonnage carried by all different methods of domestic freight transportation and can serve as a barometer of the economy in the country. In 2013, trucks hauled approximately 9.7 billion tons of freight, and motor carriers collected $681.7 billion, which accounts for approximately 81.2 percent of revenue brought in by different modes of transportation.