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US truck tonnage continues freefall in April

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Truck tonnage in the US dropped 2.2% in April, after plummeting 4.5% in March and giving bac...

ARLINGTON, Va. — Truck tonnage in the US dropped 2.2% in April, after plummeting 4.5% in March and giving back early gains.


April’s American Trucking Associations (ATA) seasonally-adjusted for-hire truck tonnage index reached its lowest level since November, 2001. Tonnage was 13.2% lower than in April, 2008, the ATA reported, marking the worst year-over-year decrease of the current cycle and the biggest drop in 13 years.


In March, tonnage was 12.2% lower than a year before. ATA chief economist Bob Costello blamed it on the recession as well as an ongoing inventory correction underway in the supply chain.


“While most key economic indicators are decreasing at a slower rate, the year-over-year contractions in truck tonnage accelerated because businesses are right-sizing their inventories, which means fewer truck shipments,” Costello said. “The absolute dollar value of inventories has fallen, but sales have decreased as much or more, which means that inventories are still too high for the current level of sales.  Until this correction is complete, freight will be tough for motor carriers.”   


He added truck freight has yet to bottom out in the US and may not do so for a few more months.


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