Today’s Trucking: Strength of Tonnage Good Sign For Economy

Truckers, do you feel the weight of the load you’re hauling? It’s getting heavier, the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) reports, and that’s a sign that the U.S. economy is doing better than some might believe.

The ATA has been calculating tonnage index based on surveys from its membership since the 1970s.

“The final quarter [of 2013] was the strongest we’ve seen in a couple of years, rising 2.2 percent from the third quarter and 9.1 percent from a year earlier,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Tonnage ended 2013 on a high note, which fits with many economic indicators as trucking is an excellent reflection of the tangible goods economy.”

December tonnage was up 0.6 percent and that’s after November’s tonnage surged by 4.7 percent, growth that pushed the index 6.2 percent higher for the full year, making it the best year since 1998.

Costello said that the growth in tonnage in the second half of 2013 points to an economy that’s likely stronger than some believe.

“I’m seeing more broad-based gains now. The improvement is not limited to the tank truck and flatbed sectors like earlier in the year,” he said. “With manufacturing and consumer spending picking up, coupled with solid volumes from hydraulic fracturing, I look for tonnage to be good in 2014 as well.”