The trucking industry is always a good indicator of economic growth because home building and consumer purchasing directly affect how many tons of goods are shipped each quarter. The American Trucking Association (ATA) publishes a seasonally adjusted (SA) and non-seasonally adjusted report illustrating the amount of freight the trucking industry is shipping. According to the most recent SA report, the tonnage of freight shipped by the trucking industry has increased for four of the past five months.
However, chief economist for ATA, Bob Costillo, expects this rate of growth to slow somewhat during the months ahead due to the federal government’s ongoing sequester and the end of tax season. The time of year between February and March, when many U.S. households have extra money to spend as their tax refunds come in, has now passed. But, good news for the long-term includes more new homes being built and good energy production, both of which contribute to more tonnage shipped by the nation’s trucking industry.
According to the seasonally adjusted report, tonnage increased .9 percent in March of 2013, after a .7 percent drop in the month of February. Truckers shipped 123.5 tons in March, the highest tonnage since the third quarter of 2011, when truckers shipped 124.3 tons in December 2011. Overall, the first quarter of 2013 has been the most positive since the final quarter of 2011, good news for both the trucking industry and the economy as a whole.
The trucking industry saw an overall increase in tonnage shipped of 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same time period in 2012. Though the ATA expects to see more growth during the final three quarters of 2013, Costillo does not expect to see the impressive 3.9 percent gain in tonnage during the second quarter of the year.