Truck Tonnage Index Drop In November Portends Economic Slowdown

Truck Tonnage Index For November falls 3.6 percent, single worst month since last recession, according to American Trucking Associations.

The for-hire Truck Tonnage Index dropped 3.6 percent in November, after falling 1.9 percent in October, according to just released statistics from the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the tonnage index fell to 106.8 (2000=100) from 110.8 in October, the lowest level since late 2003.

The index decreased 8.8 percent compared with a year earlier, marking this the largest year-over-year decrease since December 2000.

Year-to-date, the truck tonnage index was down 2.8 percent, compared with the same period in 2005. The not-seasonally adjusted index decreased 9.5 percent from October to 106.5.

According to Bob Costello, ATA Chief Economist, November 2006 was the single worst month for for-hire truck tonnage since the last recession, and this could be an indication that the "economic slowdown is in full gear."

"The most troubling number is the 8.8 percent contraction from November 2005," said Costello. "One month certainly doesn’t make a trend, but if we continue to see year-over-year reductions of similar magnitudes in the next couple of months, it could indicate a greater economic slowdown than economists are projecting at this point.” 

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy because it represents nearly 70 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. 

Trucks hauled 10.7 billion tons of freight in 2005. Motor carriers collected $623 billion dollars, or 84.3 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes. 

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