The American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 1.4% in January following a flat December reading.

The index equaled 132.8, down from 134.7 in December, which had been an all-time high reading-- matched only by November 2015. The not-seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before seasonal adjustment, equaled 127.1 That was was down 5.2% from December.

“The winter storms that hit in January likely suppressed volumes some, but by falling 1.4%, I doubt tonnage would have been positive without the storms,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “So, that tells me that the inventory situation continues to weigh on truck freight volumes. The sooner the supply chain cleans out the excess stocks, the better for trucking.”

The indication in the first month of 2016 is that truck tonnage was soft, caused by decreasing freight volumes in the later part of 2015, according to ATA. Last year was a strong year for the trucking industry in most respects and tonnage was up 2.6% compared to 2014.

"Clearly, 2016 started soft for truck tonnage," said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. "There was a deceleration in freight volumes during the second half of 2015 which continued into the first month of 2016.”