The American Trucking Associations (ATA) reported this morning that its advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index edged up 0.2% in March. That comes after increasing 0.5% in February. ATA noted February’s upswing was unchanged from the preliminary gain it reported on March 27th.

 The SA index stood at 119.5 (where 2000=100), up from 119.3 in February. Compared with March a year ago, the SA index was up 2.7%, marking the smallest year-over-year increase since December 2009. 

ATA also noted that the not seasonally adjusted index (which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment) equaled 123.2 in March— up 9.1% above the previous month. 

“March tonnage, and the first quarter overall, was reflective of an economy that is growing, but growing moderately,” said ATA chief economist Bob Costello. “The pace of freight definitely slowed from the torrid pace in late 2011.”

“Most economic indicators still look good, which will continue to support tonnage going forward,” he added.

Costello also pointed out that the industry should not expect the rate of growth seen over the last couple of years-- the tonnage that grew 5.8% in both 2010 and 2011. “Expect tonnage overall this year to be up at a more moderate rate, perhaps less than 3%, which is more in-line with normal growth,” he stated

To see Costello discuss this month’s report on an ATA link, click here.