Sluggish February causes North American freight volumes to dip

Truck freight volumes fall to their lowest level in six months.


Poor results in the US retail, manufacturing and housing sectors last month have taken a toll on the country’s trucking industry, with freight volumes dropping.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) seasonally adjusted freight tonnage index for February fell by 3.1 per cent, recording the lowest level since September 2014.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, is 6.4 per cent below the previous month.

"The February drop in truck tonnage was not a surprise," ATA chief economist Bob Costello says.

"Retail sales, manufacturing output and housing starts were all off during the month, so the tonnage decline fits with those indicators. The surprise would have been had tonnage increased with all of those sectors falling."

Costello says winter weather that impacted a large portion of the country during February with severe snow storms also played a role in freight volumes dropping.

The ATA’s truck tonnage index is based on surveys of its members and has been running since the 1970s.

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