A monthly index of trucking tonnage fell 1.1% in September after rising 0.2% in August, erasing half the gains it had made since hitting a bottom in April, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
And compared with September 2022, the index fell 4.1%, which was the seventh straight year-over-year decrease and the largest over that period, according to the ATA’s advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index.
In the context of an ongoing freight recession, the latest slump in truck freight tonnage likely brings the market to the bottom of this cycle, but the volatile market still faces “choppy waters” ahead, the ATA said.
“After hitting a bottom in April, tonnage increased in three of the previous four months, gaining a total of 2.2% before September’s drop,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a release. “However, this freight market remains in flux, and the index contracted by 1.1% in September, which erased half of those gains. Additionally, the year-over-year decrease was the largest drop since November 2020 on a very difficult comparison – September 2022 – which was the previous cycle high.”
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.5 in September, 6.8% below the August level (120.7). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.