American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 6.6% in all of 2018—the largest annual gain since 1998 (10.1%) and significantly better than the 3.8% advance in 2017.
That annual gain was realized despite a decrease of 4.3% in December to 111.9, down from November’s level of 116.9.
“The good news is that 2018 was a banner year for truck tonnage, witnessing the largest annual increase we’ve seen in two decades,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “With that said, there is evidence that the industry and economy is moderating as tonnage fell a combined total of 5.6% in October and November after hitting an all-time high in October.”
November’s change over the previous month was revised down to -1.3% from +0.4% originally reported December 18.
Compared with December 2017, the SA index rose 1.4%, the smallest year-over-year increase in 2018. In November, the index was 5.8% above the same month in 2017.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 107.8 in December, which was 7.8% below the previous month (117). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the US economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
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