Truckers saw the Great Recession coming before anyone else. So it pays to pay close attention to what they have to say.According to the latest release from the American Trucking Associations, the advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.8% in December, after surging 3.9% in November.
This back-to-back increase was the best of gain of 2012.
For all of 2012, tonnage was up 2.3%. In 2011, the index increased 5.8%.
But not all the news was bullish: compared with December 2011, the index was off 2.3 per cent — the worst year-over-year result since November 2009.
And the numbers are likely to continue to dip in the short-term as a result of new taxes, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in the the association’s statement.
As paychecks shrink for all households due to higher taxes, I’m expecting a weak first quarter for tonnage and the broader economy. Since trucks account for the vast majority of deliveries in the retail supply chain, any reduction in consumer spending will have ramifications on truck tonnage levels.
Here’s a historical look: