American Trucking Associations July Tonnage Copy

ATA: ‘Headwinds’ push freight tonnage lower

Aug. 25, 2023
American Trucking Associations’ Truck Tonnage Index decreases 0.8% in July amid lingering freight recession—due in part to sluggish spending on goods

American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.8% in July after falling 0.3% in June.

In July, the index equaled 112.9 (2015=100) compared with 113.8 in June, ATA reported.

“Headwinds for freight remained in July, pushing the truck tonnage index lower,” Bob Costello, ATA chief economist, said in a news release. “As has been the case for several months, a multitude of factors have caused a recession in freight, including sluggish spending on goods by households as consumers traveled more and went to concerts this summer.

“Less home construction, falling factory output and shippers consolidating freight into fewer shipments compared with the frenzy during the goods buying spree at the height of the pandemic are also significant drags on tonnage.”

Compared with July 2022, the SA index fell 3%, which was the fifth straight year-over-year decrease. In June, the index was down 3.2% 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 111.5 in July, 5.5% below the June level (118). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.

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.