Truck tonnage takes ‘surprise’ dip in March

U.S. for-hire truck tonnage slid 5.1% in March, on the heels of a 2.3% decline in February. “March’s drop comes as somewhat of a surprise,” said ATA chief economist Bob Costello. “I certainly heard from many fleets that the end-of-quarter rush was good, but early March was soft. Truck freight volumes were also negatively impacted by supply chain issues from the lack of microchips and other inputs.

That said, this surprise to the downside does not change my positive outlook going forward.”

Year-over-year, truck tonnage was down 9.5%.

For the first quarter, seasonally adjusted tonnage was down 0.4% compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, and down 5% year-over-year.

“Household spending power is strong and I believe there is plenty of pent-up demand for consumer spending,” Costello added. “Single-family home construction and stronger manufacturing output, even with the supply chain issues, will help support tonnage through this year and beyond.”