American truck tonnage index down 1% in May after falling 10.3% in April

The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index 1% in May after falling 10.3% in April. In May, the index equaled 106.1 (2015=100) compared with 107.2 in April.

“While tonnage fell in May, even though other economic indicators like retail sales and housing starts rose, I’m not overly concerned,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “First, while down over 10 percent sequentially in April, truck tonnage did not fall as much as other economic indicators that month. This means that any rebound is tougher since tonnage didn’t fall substantially to begin with. Second, there are indications that freight continues to improve as more and more states and localities lift lockdown restrictions.”

April’s drop was revised up to -10.3% from the 12.2% decline reported in our May 19 press release.

Compared with May 2019, the SA index contracted 9.6%, the largest year-over-year decline since 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession, although the index is not falling quite as much as during that economic downturn. For example, in April 2009, the index was off 14% from a year earlier. The latest drop was preceded by a 9.4% year-over-year drop in April. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2019, tonnage is down 2.6%

Source: ATA

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