Seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage rebounded 2.0% in April, following a revised 2.9% drop in March. ATA chief economist Bob Costello said the April number was in line with industry expectations as many motor carriers anecdotally stated that the month was the most robust since January.

However, April didn’t fully make up for the softer volumes of February and March, Costello said. A significant retail inventory correction coupled with softer volumes for high-weight products in the manufacturing sector curbed tonnage volumes in those two months.

“If February and March weren’t so weak, the 2% jump in April would have been viewed as stellar,” Costello stated. “Many carriers have noted an abnormally high start and stop trend in freight recently, with some good weeks followed by a step backward. Nevertheless, April was a good sign that truck volumes are improving from the challenging first quarter.”

Costello said he generally expects modest gains will continue in coming months.