In January 2017, American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index climbed 2.9% after a 4.3% drop during December. The index in January equaled 138.8 (2000=100), up from 134.9 in December. The all-time high was 142.7, set in February 2016.

Compared with January 2016, the SA index gained 2.6%. In December, the index fell 0.2% on a year-over-year basis. For all of 2016, tonnage advanced 2.5%.

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

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, totaled 131.6 in January, or 1.8% below the previous month (133.9).

“The freight economy is starting to show some signs of life, and January’s truck tonnage numbers are a good step forward,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “Hopefully the ups and downs in truck tonnage during 2016 will not be as pronounced in 2017.

“Looking ahead, the most recent positive sign for truck tonnage is the large drop in the inventory-to-sales ratio during December,” he said. “The decrease put inventories throughout the supply chain, relative to sales, to the lowest level in two years. There is no doubt that the inventory glut was a drag on truck freight volumes last year.”

A barometer of the US economy, trucking represents 70.1% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks transported nearly 10.5 billion tons of freight in 2015. Motor carriers collected $726.4 billion, or 81.2% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.