For-hire truck tonnage fell 3.6% in January and dropped 5.0% compared with the same month last year, according to advanced seasonally adjusted data provided by the American Trucking Assns. (ATA). This follows a revised month-to-month 6.2% surge in December.

For the full-year 2006, truck tonnage fell 1.7% compared to 2005.

“Tonnage levels have become even more volatile in recent months, fitting with the anecdotal reports from motor carriers,” said ATA chief economist Bob Costello. “January was not particularly good, which is highlighted by the tonnage index falling substantially from both December 2006 and January 2006. These reductions also fit with other economic data, including the purchasing managers’ index and manufacturing production. The Fed’s manufacturing production index, weighted by truck tonnage instead of the value of the goods, fell 1.2 percent from December and 2.9 percent from January 2006.”