ATA Truck Tonnage Index Rises 2.4% in September
October 21, 2021
American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA)
For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.4% in September after rising
0.3% in August. In September, the index equaled 112.9 (2015=100)
compared with 110.2 in August.
“September’s sequential gain was the largest in 2021,” said ATA Chief
Economist Bob Costello. “It is good that tonnage rose in September, but
it is important to note that this is happening because each truck is
hauling more, not from an increase in the amount of equipment operated
as contract carriers in the for-hire truckload market continue to shrink
from the lack of new trucks and drivers.
“The drivers of truck freight, including retail, construction, and
manufacturing, plus a surge in imports, are helping keep demand high for
trucking services,” he said.
August’s reading was revised down slightly to 0.3% from our September 21
Compared with September 2020, the SA index rose 1.7%, which was the
first year-over-year gain since May. In August, the index was down 0.7%
from a year earlier. Year-to-date, compared with the same nine months in
2020, tonnage is unchanged.
not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage
actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled
113.2 in September, 1% below the August level (114.3). 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 72.5%
of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation,
including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.84 billion
tons of freight in 2019. Motor carriers collected $791.7 billion, or
80.4% 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.