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US truck tonnage crunched by Hurricane Sandy

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- US for-hire truck tonnage dove 3.8% in October, following on the heels of a 0.4% decrease in September (which was revised down from a 0.1% gain that was first reported).


WASHINGTON, D.C. — US for-hire truck tonnage dove 3.8% in October, following on the heels of a 0.4% decrease in September (which was revised down from a 0.1% gain that was first reported).

October’s drop represented the third consecutive month-over-month decrease, totaling 4.7%, according to the American Trucking Associations Truck Tonnage Index.

Seasonally-adjusted truck tonnage reached its lowest level since May 2011.

October’s tonnage was 2.1% below the same month last year, marking the first year-over-year decrease since November 2009. Year-to-date, US truck tonnage is still 2.9% above the same period last year.

“Clearly Hurricane Sandy negatively impacted October’s tonnage reading,” ATA chief economist Bob Costello said.  “However, it is impossible for us to determine the exact impact.” 

Costello noted that a large drop in fuel shipments into the affected area likely put downward pressure on October’s tonnage level since fuel is heavy freight, in addition to reductions in other freight.

“I’d expect some positive impact on truck tonnage as the rebuilding starts in the areas impacted by Sandy, although that boost may only be modest in November and December,” he said. “Excluding the Hurricane impacts, I still think truck tonnage is decelerating along with factory output and consumer spending on tangible-goods.”  


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