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The trucking industry is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. Nearly 70% of all the freight tonnage moved in the U.S. goes on trucks. Without the industry and our truck drivers, the economy would come to a standstill. To move 9.2 billion tons of freight annually requires nearly 3 million heavy-duty Class 8 trucks and over 3 million truck drivers. It also takes over 37 billion gallons of diesel fuel to move all of that freight. Simply – without trucks, America stops.

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ATA Truck Tonnage Index Fell 0.4% in July.

August 20, 2013 12:00 PM

Sean McNally 703-838-1995

Arlington, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index slipped 0.4% in July after edging 0.1% higher in June. (June’s increase was the same as ATA reported on July 23, 2013.) The latest drop was the first since April. In July, the SA index equaled 125.4 (2000=100) versus 125.9 in June. June 2013 is the highest level on record. Compared with July 2012, the SA index increased 4.7%, which is robust, although the smallest year-over-year gain since April. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2012, the tonnage index is up 4.7%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 129.6 in July, which was 3% above the previous month (125.9).

“After gaining a total of 2.2% in May and June, it isn’t surprising that tonnage slipped a little in July,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “The decrease corresponds with the small decline in manufacturing output during July reported by the Federal Reserve last week.”

Note on the impact of trucking company failures on the index: Each month, ATA asks its membership the amount of tonnage each carrier hauled, including all types of freight. The indexes are calculated based on those responses. The sample includes an array of trucking companies, ranging from small fleets to multi-billion dollar carriers. When a company in the sample fails, we include its final month of operation and zero it out for the following month, with the assumption that the remaining carriers pick up that freight. As a result, it is close to a net wash and does not end up in a false increase. Nevertheless, some carriers are picking up freight from failures and it may have boosted the index. Due to our correction mentioned above however, it should be limited.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 67% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9.2 billion tons of freight in 2011. Motor carriers collected $603.9 billion, or 80.9% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation’s freight. Follow ATA on Twitter or on Facebook. Good stuff. Trucks Bring It!

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