ATA Truck Tonnage Index Down 2.4 Percent In June

July 27, 2009

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American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 2.4 percent in June,
lowering the index to 99.8. The decrease was not enough to make up for the 3.2 percent jump in May tonnage.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, was up 5.2 percent from May, to 107.3.

From June 2008, tonnage slipped 13.6 percent, surpassing May's 11 percent year-over-year drop. June has marked the largest year-over-year decline of the current cycle, exceeding the 13.2 percent fall in April.

Bob Costello, ATA chief economist, expects tonnage to be shifty in the months ahead. "While I am hopeful that the worst is behind us, I just don't see anything on the economic horizon that suggests freight tonnage is about to rise significantly or consistently," he said. "The consumer is still facing too many headwinds, including employment losses, tight credit, and falling home values, to name a few, that will make it very difficult for household spending to jump in the near term."

Costello also noted that inventories are still too high compared to sales, especially in the manufacturing and wholesale industries. "As a result, this is likely to be the first time in memory that truck tonnage doesn't lead the macro economy out of a recession. Today, many new product orders can be fulfilled with current inventories, not new production, thus suppressing truck tonnage."

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