ARLINGTON, VA — “The drops in [U.S. for-hire] tonnage are reflective of the broader economy, which has slowed. The good news is that the decrease in fuel prices will help support retail sales going forward, which is a big part of truck tonnage,” said Bob Costello, the chief economist for the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
Costello’s comments came after ATA reports showed the U.S. for-hire truck tonnage decreased 0.7 percent in May after having fallen by 1.1 percent in April.
Although tonnage is down 0.7 percent on a month over month scale, it is up 4.1 percent compared to last year in May.
Even so, Costello said he’s concerned that businesses are sitting on cash rather than spending it on capital or hiring more workers, which would give the economy a boost.
But industry analyst Peter Nesvol from Jeffries and Co. said the current trends in tonnage closely resemble a “typical” truck cycle.
“We compared this current tonnage cycle to our truck composite model, which aggregates truck tonnage data over the past 40 years, and we found that this tonnage cycle has been unremarkable in a historical context,” Nesvol said.
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