The seasonally adjusted index equaled 137.5 for the month, up 0.7 percent compared with March 2016, after falling 2.7 percent year-over-year in February. ATA noted the all-time high index reading was 142.7 in February 2016.
For the full year in 2016, tonnage rose 2.5 percent compared with 2015, but so far in 2017, the index is up just 0.2 percent from the same period a year ago.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage hauled by fleets prior to any seasonal adjustment, equaled 143.9 in March, up 14.6 percent from 125.6 the previous month.
“Like several other economic indicators, March truck tonnage was likely hurt by some late season winter storms,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement. “Despite last month’s dip, seasonally adjusted tonnage rose 1.2 percent during the first quarter overall from the previous quarter, and increased 0.2 percent from the same quarter last year.
“While I’m not expecting a surge in truck tonnage anytime soon, the signs remain mostly positive for freight, including lower inventory levels, better manufacturing activity, solid housing starts and good consumer spending,” he added. “As a result, we can expect moderate growth going forward.”