Trucking Industry Growth Mixed In July 2019

Headline data for the American Trucking Association (ATA) tonnage significantly improved, and the CASS Freight Index reported the year-over-year growth rate continues in contraction.

Analyst Opinion of Truck Transport

The CASS index is inclusive of rail, truck, and air shipments. The ATA truck index is inclusive of only member movements.

I tend to put a heavier weight on the CASS index which continued in contraction year-over-year. On the other hand, the ATA index significantly improved and is in expansion. The ATA index is an outlier on the positive side - and is contrary to almost every economic data point.

Econintersect tries to validate truck data across data sources. It appears this month that truck employment rate of growth continues to slow. Please note using BLS employment data in real-time is risky, as their data is normally backward adjusted (sometimes significantly).

(Click on image to enlarge)

ATA Trucking

American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 6.6% in July after falling 1.2% in June. In July, the index equaled 122.7 (2015=100) compared with 115.1 in June.

Said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello:

Tonnage in 2019 has been on a rollercoaster ride, plagued with large monthly swings, which continued in July as tonnage surged after falling significantly in May and June. However, take out the month-to-month noise, and you see that truck tonnage is still on a nice upward path. It is important to note that ATA's tonnage data is dominated by contract freight, which is performing significantly better than the plunge in spot market freight this year.

ATA Truck tonnage this month

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Compared with July 2018, the SA index surged 7.3%, the largest year-over-year gain since April.

source: ATA


The following was reported by CASS:

  • Dropping Another -5.9% in July, Negative Volume Eight Months in a Row
  • Signs of Economic Contraction Continue - Will GDP be Negative in Q3?
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