Truck tonnage showed signs of life in February but remains in recession

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A measure of truck tonnage increased 4.3% in February after decreasing 3.2% in January, although the final number still fell 1.4% short of its level a year ago, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

The data comes from ATA’s advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index, which rose to 116.0 (2015=100) compared with 111.3 in January. The index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight. 

“After a very soft January, due in part to winter storms, truck tonnage snapped back in February,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “February’s level was the highest in a year, yet the index still contracted from a year earlier, suggesting truck freight remains in a recession.”

Compared with February 2023, the index fell 1.4%, which was the twelfth straight year-over-year decline for the monthly measure. In January, the index was down 4.5% from a year earlier.

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