“The 2020 seesaw pattern continued in November as typical seasonality is not holding this year,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. - Graph: American Trucking Associations

“The 2020 seesaw pattern continued in November as typical seasonality is not holding this year,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

Graph: American Trucking Associations

Truck tonnage in November was up compared to October but down year over year, according to the American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index.

The index rose 3.7% in November after falling 5% in October, to 112.2 (2015=100) compared with 108.3 in October.

Compared with November a year ago, however, the index contracted 3.8%, the eighth straight year-over-year decline. Year-to-date tonnage is also down 3.8% compared to the same time last year.
“The 2020 seesaw pattern continued in November as typical seasonality is not holding this year,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “It was a nice gain, but the rebound was not enough to make up for October’s drop.”

Robust retail freight, helped by consumer spending, especially e-commerce, and very lean inventories helped truck tonnage last month, he said.

“Strong single-family housing starts are also aiding freight tonnage, but lackluster restaurant, manufacturing and energy sectors remain a drag. I expect these softer industries to benefit from widespread COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021.”  

October’s decrease was revised up to 5% from ATA’s Nov. 24 press release.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 110.5 in November, 4.7% below the October level (116). ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. It includes both truckload and less-than-truckload freight. The For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.

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