Truck Tonnage Gains in March

The American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted freight-tracking index, the For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index, gained 0.9 percent in March compared with February. In announcing the March figure last week, the ATA also revised the February figure to a decline of 0.7 percent compared with January. The February figure had originally been calculated as a decline of 0.6 percent.

“Tonnage has now increased in four of the last five months,” according to the announcement. “Specifically, since November 2012, the index is up 7.6%.”

The seasonally adjusted index was up 3.8 percent compared with March 2012, which was even better than the 3.1 percent improvement from February to February.

“Fitting with the expectation for solid gross domestic product growth in the first quarter, tonnage was strong in March and the quarter overall,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a news release. “At 3.9% year-over-year growth, the first quarter increase was the best since the final quarter 2011.

“Expect freight tonnage will slow in the months ahead as the federal government sequester continues and households finish spending their tax returns,” Costello continued. “The good news for tonnage is housing starts are growing and energy production is good — both of which generates heavy freight. However, these two sectors alone won’t be enough to keep the overall index growing at a 3.9% clip in the second quarter.”