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Truck Tonnage Shoots Up
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 00:00
Surge in January follows worst year for trucking volume since 1982

Trucking is "clearly in a recovery mode," with the American Trucking Associations' truck tonnage index showing its strongest increase since January 2005 last month.

That's good news for an industry that saw tonnage levels drop 8.7 percent for the entire year—the largest drop in freight shipments hauled by truck since 1982.

ATA's advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 3.1 percent in January from December, following a revised 1.3 percent increase in that month.

The index reached 110.4, its highest level since September 2008.

Compared with January 2009, truck tonnage surged 5.7 percent, the best year-over-year result since January 2005 and the second consecutive increase, ATA said.

That supports anecdotal reports from carriers and shippers that capacity in some sectors of trucking is beginning to get tighter, which may put upward pressure on rates.

"While I don't expect tonnage to continue growing as robustly as it did in January, the industry is finally moving in the right direction," said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

"Although there are still risks that could throw the rebound off track, the likelihood of that happening continues to diminish," Costello said.

Journal of Commerce Online, 2/24/2010