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March 2014Truck Tonnage Index Rises 3.1%

March 2014Truck Tonnage Index Rises 3.1%

Transport Topics — April 22, 2014 — Rip Watson, Senior Reporter:

Truck tonnage rose again in March, climbing 3.1% over the same month of 2013, despite residual weather troubles, American Trucking Associations said April 22.

ATA’s advanced seasonally adjusted index based on for-hire carriers’ freight also increased on a month-to-month basis, rising 0.6% in March over February.

“Tonnage continued to claw its way out of the hole that was dug in December and January,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, with a cumulative gain of 2.5% during the last two months, we still have a way to go to offset the total loss of 5.2% in December and January.

Last month’s result was the best year-over-year tonnage performance of 2014. For the first quarter, tonnage improved 2.3% this year over 2013, despite winter weather east of the Rocky Mountains that was among the worst in U.S. history.

“Despite the fact that tonnage hasn’t snapped back to the levels we saw late last year, the fundamentals for truck freight continue to look good,” Costello said in a statement. “While it will take time to regain what was lost due to weather and other factors, like a potential inventory correction in the first quarter, I remain optimistic for 2014.”

First-quarter tonnage trailed the fourth quarter of 2013, when all-time index levels were reported, and dropped 2.3% on a sequential basis.

The index was 127.3 in March, compared with a 126.5 in February, ATA reported, noting a revision of the February result that reduced the amount of the sequential increase in the index to 1.9%.