Truck Tonnage Increases in December

After rising 3.9 percent as recently as November, the American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted tonnage for for-hire trucks increased yet again by a staggering 2.8 percent in December. These consecutive tonnage increases were, without a doubt, the most beneficial increases of 2012. Because of this, the seasonally adjusted index showed a grand total of 121.6 (2000=100) for December as opposed to 118.3 for the previous month.

Regardless of these bold increases, in comparison to December of 2011, the index was short by about 2.3 percent, making this the worst annual result since November of 2009. For the entirety of 2012, the tonnage increased by 2.8 percent. For the entirety of 2011, it had risen by 5.8 percent.

The non-SA index, which shows changes in the number of tons that are actually moved by truck fleets prior to seasonal adjustments, totaled 110.3 for the month of December, which falls 4.9 percent short of the month before.

According to ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello, "December turned out better than we had hoped considering the low year-over-year comparison." In December of 2011, the SA index had risen an astonishing 6.4 percent from November 2011. Mr. Costello expects that there will be more listlessness with the SA index this year, particularly early on as the country's economy continues to struggle.

"Because income is decreasing for most people due to tax increases, I anticipate a sluggish first quarter for tonnage and the economy in general," he sates. "Trucks make up most of the deliveries for the chain of retail supply, so anything that hurts consumer spending will also hurt the tonnage being hauled by trucks."

Every month, the ATA requests that its members report the number of tons hauled by each carrier, including all freight types. The SA and non-SA indices are calculated using their responses. The data collected includes information from a variety of companies from small fleets to multi-billion dollar trucking corporations. If a company in the collected data goes out of business, the ATA includes its last month of operation, leave it out of the next month's tally and assume than another company will begin hauling the leftover goods. Because of this, the end result is a net wash and doesn't result in false increases. Regardless, some trucking companies have been taking on goods from failed companies and it could falsely boost the index. However, due to the aforementioned correction, the margin of error should be minimal.

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