According to the American Trucking Associations, the advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 5.1% in July (109.6) after increasing 8.9% the previous month (115.5).
“After a very strong June, for-hire contract freight tonnage slipped in July for a couple of reasons,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “It is likely that tonnage was down because many fleets didn’t have the capacity to take advantage of stronger retail freight volumes.”
A majority of the overflow freight moved to the spot market, according to Costello, which saw an increase in July. ATA data also shows that for-hire truckload fleets are operating 3% fewer trucks this summer than 2019, making it more difficult to take on additional freight.
“Also, while retail volumes have snapped back strongly, manufacturing output and international trade freight is lagging well behind,” Costello added.
Even with the decline, the index was 3.3% above the recent low in May, while June’s increase was revised up slightly to 8.9% from the ATA’s late July press release. Compared with July 2019, the SA index contracted 8.3%, the fourth straight year-over-year decline. Year-to-date, tonnage is down 3.2%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.9 in July, 2.5% below the June level of 115.8.