The seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased slightly in March, rising 0.6%, the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) announced.

That was less than the adjusted 1.9% in February, which had preliminarily been reported as a 2.8% increase in March 18. In March, the index equaled 127.3 (2000=100) versus 126.5 in February. The all-time high was in November 2013 (131.0).

The SA index for March is up 3.1% year-over-year. A quarter to quarter comparison, though, saw tonnage drop 2.5% in the first quarter compared the fourth quarter of 2013. Compared to the first quarter of 2013, tonnage was up 2.3%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 129.4 in March, which was 12.1% above the previous month (115.5).

“Tonnage continued to claw its way out of the hole that was dug in December and January,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “However, with a cumulative gain of 2.5% during the last two months, we still have a way to go to offset the total loss of 5.2% in December and January.

 “Despite the fact that tonnage hasn’t snapped back to the levels we saw late last year, the fundamentals for truck freight continue to look good,” he added. “While it will take time to regain what was lost due to weather and other factors, like a potential inventory correction in the first quarter, I remain optimistic for 2014; however, don’t expect a 6.3% annual gain in truck tonnage like during 2013.”