March Sees 2% Decline in ATA Truck Tonnage Index

March Sees 2% Decline in ATA Truck Tonnage Index

Index Fell 1% from March 2023 

WashingtonAmerican Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index declined 2% in March after increasing 4% in February. In March, the index equaled 113.4 (2015=100) compared with 115.7 in February.

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“Tonnage in March suggests that truck freight volumes remain lackluster, and it is clear the truck freight recession continued through the first quarter,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “In the first three months of 2024, ATA’s tonnage index contracted 0.8% from the previous quarter and declined 2.4% from a year earlier, highlighting ongoing challenges the industry is navigating.”

February’s increase was revised down slightly from our March 19 press release.

Compared with March 2023, the index fell 1%, which was the thirteenth straight year-over-year decline, but the second smallest over that period. In February, the index was down 1.7% from a year earlier.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 114.4 in March, 4.7% higher than in February. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.

In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.6% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.46 billion tons of freight in 2022. Motor carriers collected $940.8 billion, or 80.7% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

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