Seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage increased 6.6 percent in 2018, the largest annual increase since 1998 and well above 2017's 3.8 percent gain, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) said this week.
The gains came despite slowing levels in recent months. December's index fell 4.3 percent compared with November and the combined October and November tonnage fell 5.6 percent, according to ATA.
The group's chief economist, Bob Costello, referred to 2018 as a "banner year" for truck tonnage, but said the end-of-year declines point to moderating conditions ahead.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods, according to ATA. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, nearly 80 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes, the group also said.
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