The American Trucking Associations' For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.4% in September after falling 0.9% in August.
In September, the advanced seasonally adjusted index equaled 118.7 (2000=100). The level in September was the same as in January 2012, so the index has been on a flat trend-line over the past nine months.
Compared with September 2011, the SA index was 2.4% higher, the smallest year-over-year increase since December 2009. Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage was up 3.6%.
During the third quarter, SA tonnage increased 0.4% from the previous quarter and 3.4% from the same quarter in 2011.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 115.3 in September, which was 9% below the previous month.
"The year-over-year deceleration in tonnage continued during September, although I was encouraged that the seasonally adjusted index edged higher from August," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. Costello noted again this month that the acceleration in housing starts, which is helping truck tonnage, is being countered by a flattening in manufacturing output and elevated inventories throughout the supply chain.
"Expect year-over-year comparisons to continue shrinking through the rest of the year as tonnage grew nicely during the last three months of 2011," he said. As a result, tonnage is expected to increase less than 3.5% in 2012.