ARLINGTON, Va. — US truck tonnage continues to take one step forward and then a step back with the latest American Trucking Associations For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index dropping 2.4% in June.
That comes on the heels of a 3.2% gain in May. Year-over-year, June tonnage was down 13.6%, which was worse than May’s 11% decline compared to the previous May. June’s dismal year-over-year decline marks the biggest y-to-y drop in the current cycle, according to the ATA.
The association’s chief economist Bob Costello says to expect more choppiness in the months ahead.
“While I am hopeful that the worst is behind us, I just don’t see anything on the economic horizon that suggests freight tonnage is about to rise significantly or consistently,” Costello said. “The consumer is still facing too many headwinds, including employment losses, tight credit, and falling home values, to name a few, that will make it very difficult for household spending to jump in the near term.”
He also pointed out inventories, relative to sales, are still quite high in much of the supply chain, especially in the manufacturing and wholesale industries.
“As a result, this is likely to be the first time in memory that truck tonnage doesn’t lead the macro economy out of a recession,” Costello predicted. “Today, many new product orders can be fulfilled with current inventories, not new production, thus suppressing truck tonnage.”
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