Many of us have seen the huge drop in rail freight. Now we are seeing a similar drop in trucking.
The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 2.4 percent in June. In May, SA tonnage jumped 3.2 percent. June’s decrease, which lowered the SA index to 99.8 (2000=100), wasn’t large enough to completely offset the robust gain in the previous month.
Compared with June 2008, tonnage fell 13.6 percent, which surpassed May’s 11 percent year-over-year drop. June’s contraction was the largest year-over-year decrease of the current cycle, exceeding the 13.2 percent drop in April.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing nearly 69 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods.
That's bad, but would you believe that the real number is probably worse?
Each month, ATA asks its membership the amount of tonnage each carrier hauled, including all types of freight. The indexes are calculated based on those responses. The sample includes an array of trucking companies, ranging from small fleets to multi-billion dollar carriers. When a company in the sample fails, we include its final month of operation and zero it out for the following month, with the assumption that the remaining carriers pick up that freight. As a result, it is close to a net wash and does not end up in a false increase. Nevertheless, some carriers are picking up freight from failures, and it may have boosted the index.