April was a strong month for truck tonnage, according to the ATA Truck Tonnage Index, possibly...

April was a strong month for truck tonnage, according to the ATA Truck Tonnage Index, possibly due to factors such as weaker previous months and a late Easter holiday. 

Source: ATA

American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage surged 7.4% in April, swinging back from the two previous weak months.

The index equaled 121.8, up from March’s reading of 113.4 which represented a 2% month-to-month decrease. It was also up 7.7% compared to April 2018, the largest year-over-year gain since July 2018.

 Despite the strong month for truck tonnage, ATA chief economist Bob Costello cautioned against reading too much into it due to a number of possible influencing factors.

“The surge in truck tonnage in April is obviously good for trucking, but it is important to examine it in the context of the broader economy,” said Costello. “February and March were particularly weak months, as evidenced by the 3.5% dip in tonnage due to weather and other factors, so some of the gain was a catch-up effect. In addition, the Easter holiday was later than usual, likely pushing freight that would ordinarily be moved in March into April.”

Removing seasonal adjustment, representing the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets in the month, the April index equaled 117.7, 1% above March.

“I do not think the fundamentals underlying truck tonnage are as strong as April’s figure would indicate, but this may signal that any fears of a looming freight recession may have been overblown,” said Costello.

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