ATA Truck Tonnage Index sees slight gains to begin 2022

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Truck tonnage eked out a small gain to kick off 2022, according to data issued this week by the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

The ATA’s advanced Seasonally Adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index, for January, at 115.5 (2015=100), saw a 0.6% increase, following a 0.9% December gain.

On an annual basis, SA tonnage headed up 1.2% in January, marking the fifth consecutive month of annual gains, which was preceded by a 1.5% annual gain in December. And for all of 2021, SA tonnage was up 0.3% annually, while 2020 tonnage was down 4% compared to 2019.  

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment and the metric ATA says fleets should benchmark their levels with, came in at 109.2 (2015=100), trailing December’s 114.1 reading by 4.3%. ATA said that its For-Hire Truck tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight rather than spot market freight.

“January’s gain was the sixth straight totaling 4.4%,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement. “The index, which is dominated by contract freight with only small amounts of spot market truck freight, is off 3.9% from the all-time high in August 2019 and only 1.5% below March 2020 when the pandemic hit. In January, truck tonnage was helped by rising retail sales and factory output. While housing starts fell last month, which is another important driver of truck tonnage, it remained at high levels.”

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