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ATA Truck Tonnage Index Fell 1.7% in 2023, Worst Year Since 2020

February 12, 2024, 07:00 AM
Filed Under: Trucking

American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.1 percent in December after falling 1.4 percent in November. In December, the index equaled 115.7 (2015=100) compared with 113.3 in November.

While 2023 ended on a better note, truck tonnage remained in a recession as it continued to fall on a year-over-year basis,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “With that said, for-hire contract freight, which is what comprises our index, in December was 2.6 percent above the trough in April. For the entire year, tonnage contracted 1.7 percent from 2022 levels. This makes 2023 the worst annual reading since 2020 when the index fell 4 percent from 2019, and the only year since 2020 that tonnage contracted.”

November’s decline was revised down slightly from the Dec. 19 press release.

Compared with December 2022, the SA index fell 0.5 percent, which was the 10th straight year-over-year decrease, albeit the smallest over that period. In November, the index was down 1.6 percent from a year earlier.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 110.7 in December, 1.9 percent below November’s level (112.8). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.6 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.46 billion tons of freight in 2022. Motor carriers collected $940.8 billion, or 80.7 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

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