WASHINGTON, D.C. -- US for-hire truck tonnage was flat in July, but up 4.1% compared to last July, marking the best year-over-year gain since February 2012.
Year-to-date, tonnage is up 3.7% compared to 2011, according to the American Trucking Associations.
“July’s reading reflects an economy that has lost some steam, but hasn’t stalled,” ATA chief economist Bob Costello said. “Certainly there has been some better economic news recently, but I continue to believe we will see some deceleration in tonnage during the second half of the year, if for nothing else but very tough comparisons on a robust August through December period in 2011.”
Costello added he expects the slowdown in new factory orders will constrain manufacturing output, which will impact truck freight volumes. He’s also concerned about the recent jump in the total business (manufacturing, wholesale, and retail) inventory-to-sales ratio. “Unintended gains in inventories will hit trucking negatively as the supply chain works off stocks,” Costello said.
He kept his tonnage outlook for 2012 to the 3-3.5% range as reported last month.