The advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.3 percent in May, following a 2.0 percent gain in April, according to the American Trucking Associations. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s.
The latest increase put the seasonally adjusted index at 113.0. Compared with May 2005, the index was 1.3 percent lower. The not seasonally adjusted index rose 11.2 percent from April to 119.8.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said May's volumes built upon the improvement in April after a tough February and March. But he noted that the index was still 4.3 percent lower than January's reading of 118.0, the highest level so far this year. A significant retail inventory correction coupled with softer volumes for high-weight products in the manufacturing sector curbed tonnage volumes in both February and March.
"Truck tonnage growth in May was another good step in the right direction," Costello noted. "With economic growth expected to stabilize in the months ahead, by and large, I expect modest increases in truck tonnage." Costello added that industry capacity remains relatively tight and would further tighten this fall.