Truck tonnage index reports best January ever

Companies often rely on trucking firms to procure raw materials and transport their finished goods to market, making trucks a critical component of many supply chains. It appears that some businesses are increasing their use of such transportation methods, as new data from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) indicates tonnage shipped throughout the country is on the rise.

Recently released their For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index for January, and the seasonally adjusted results of 125.2 made last month the highest January on record. Truck tonnage has gained at least 2.4 percent each month since November, resulting in a 9.1 percent increase since that time. When compared to January 2011, the seasonally adjusted index has gone up 6.5 percent.

"The trucking industry started 2013 with a bang, reflected in the best January tonnage report in five years," said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. "While I believe that the overall economy will be sluggish in the first quarter, trucking likely benefited in January from an inventory destocking that transpired late last year, thus boosting volumes more than normal early this year as businesses replenish those lean inventories."

Another factor that could play into the continually improving index could be the slowly growing economy. Businesses are beginning to sell more as Americans find jobs and have more to spend, meaning manufacturers need to increase their procurement of raw materials, step up production and get goods to market quickly. According to the ATA, 67 percent of cargo transported in the U.S. is shipped via truck, making the industry an indicator of the overall economy, but also an important factor for firms looking to expand, change up logistical processes or alter supply chains as business picks up. Changing up shipping routes or switching from air freight to truck transit could even give businesses the opportunity to enjoy greater cost savings and increased efficiency over time. 

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