American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 3.5% in January after increasing 1.2% in December. In January, the index equaled 111.0 (2015=100) compared with 115.0 in December.

ATA recently revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision.

“January’s data was a snap back to reality for anyone thinking the freight market was about to turn the corner,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Bad winter weather in January likely hurt volumes, not to mention sharp drops in a number of drivers of tonnage including retail sales, housing starts and manufacturing output.”

December’s increase was revised down from our January 23 press release.

Compared with January 2023, the SA index fell 4.7%, which was the eleventh straight year-over-year decrease. In December, the index was down 0.8% 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 109.4 in January, 0.7% below December’s level (110.2). 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% 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% 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.