ARLINGTON, Va. — American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index surged 7.4% in April after decreasing 2% in March. In April, the index equaled 121.8 (2015=100) compared with 113.4 in March.
“The surge in truck tonnage in April is obviously good for trucking, but it is important to examine it in the context of the broader economy,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “February and March were particularly weak months, as evidenced by the 3.5% dip in tonnage due to weather and other factors, so some of the gain was a catch-up effect. In addition, the Easter holiday was later than usual, likely pushing freight that would ordinarily be moved in March into April.
“I do not think the fundamentals underlying truck tonnage are as strong as April’s figure would indicate, but this may signal that any fears of a looming freight recession may have been overblown,” he said.
March’s reading was revised up compared with our April press release.
Compared with April 2018, the SA index increased 7.7%, the largest year-over-year gain since July.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 117.7 in April, 1% above March level (116.6). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.
May Class 8 truck sales total 24,424, a 1.7% gain over April
There were ups and oops when Wards Intelligence released data on the sale of new Class 8 trucks in May.
On the up side, 2019 marked the first time since the boom year of 2006 that total Class 8 sales topped the 100,000 mark after only five months of the year as May sales were up 27.2% over the same month last year.
On the oops side, the month-over-month gain of 1.7% followed more significant month-over-month gains of 15% in March and 5.2% in April.
In all, there were 24,424 Class 8 trucks sold in May, bringing the yearly total to 111,332 compared with 88,674 after five months in 2018, a 25.6% bump.
Four of the seven nameplates posted month-over-month gains in May topped by Western Star (24.6%) and Volvo (23.8%).
All seven were up when compared with May 2018, led by Peterbilt (46.5%) and Freightliner (40.8).
Year-to-date, International has the largest increase (36.2%) followed by Freightliner (34.3%).
FTR Trucking Conditions Index improves slightly in April, still in negative territory
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index rebounded marginally in April to a -0.64 reading.
Conditions improved slightly from the previous month, but TCI remains in negative territory as the rate environment continues to soften.
Economic indicators linked to freight are generally weaker, and FTR expects that the index will remain in a narrow band of negative readings through 2019 and into the 2020 calendar year, FTR said.
Details of the April TCI are found in the June issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published May 31. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ section in the current issue includes an updated analysis of the current trade situation and the impact it is having on freight. Along with the TCI and “Notes by the Dashboard Light,” the Trucking Update includes data and analysis on load volumes, the capacity environment, rates, costs, and the truck driver situation.
“Not that long ago, it seemed inconceivable that the good times in trucking would end, but here we are back down to earth,” said Avery Vise, vice president of trucking. “Growth in manufacturing — the most significant driver of trucking activity — has subsided, and residential construction remains stagnant. However, there are some near-term positives, such as lower diesel prices. Also, carriers are responding to flagging demand by ending their hiring spree, which could set the stage for firmer capacity utilization down the road.”
The Trucking Conditions Index tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market. These conditions are: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence fleet behavior. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance. In life, running a fever is an indication of a health problem. It may not tell you exactly what’s wrong, but it alerts you to look deeper. Similarly, a reading well below zero on the FTR Trucking Conditions Index warns you of a problem, while readings high above zero spell opportunity. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.
FTR has served as the industry source for freight transportation forecasting in North America for the shipping, trucking, rail, intermodal, equipment and financial communities for over 30 years.
Our team of experts have over 250 years of combined experience in the transportation industry and leverage that knowledge to provide quantitative analysis with historical and modal-specific insights. The reports, data, commentary, and insights that FTR provides help our clients evaluate market risks, identify new opportunities, and make informed decisions.
For more information about the work of FTR, visit , follow on Twitter @ftrintel, or call (888) 988-1699, ext. 1.
Survey shows wellness trends within transportation industry
GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — In the third white paper in a series of research examining demographic and wellness trends within the transportation industry, Atlas Injury Prevention Solutions reveals the correlation between certain physical and behavioral elements and the risks to employee health and wellness.
The newly released white paper titled Relationship between Demographics and Wellness in the Transportation Industry details the results of a five-year study of 15,165 drivers and non-drivers employed in terminals, warehouses, shops and offices..
Factors measured include body mass index (BMI), tobacco use, age and gender and how these factors impact driver and non-driver health.
The paper, an expansion of two previous papers in the series, outlines potential risk factors that contribute to health concerns facing drivers.
Findings in the paper include:
- Increased risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Of the 15,165 participants who completed biometric screening, 33% had at least three out of five conditions involved with metabolic syndrome (MetS), which includes hypertension, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Individuals who have a combination of three or more of these factors have an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
- Increased percentage of MetS in younger drivers. Drivers between ages 40 and 59 years shared the same risks as their 60-plus year-old counterparts.
- Tobacco use and drivers. Drivers are 130% more likely to smoke than their non-driver counterparts.
- The need for targeted training/wellness programs. Addressing BMI as a medical condition, understanding health risks associated with aging, adopting smoking cessation programs, and targeting drivers for training/wellness programs can decrease development of MetS conditions and slow the rate at which MetS risks increase with age.
“Our goal with this paper is to inform health and safety professionals in the transportation industry on how to identify and prioritize higher-risk drivers,” said James Landsman, president of Atlas IPS. “In the white paper, we use the results of our analysis to identify and justify recommendations to help companies reduce risk exposure and ensure better employee health and wellness.”
To view the full Atlas white paper, titled Relationship between Demographics and Wellness in the Transportation Industry, visit .