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Good run for U.S. truck tonnage stalls in April

U.S. for-hire truck tonnage fell 2% in April, putting the brakes on a streak of eight straight monthly gains, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) reports.

The drop came on the heels of a 1.8% increase in March.

“After eight straight gains totaling 6.9%, for-hire tonnage finally slid back in April. Despite being the largest sequential drop since August 2020, the index was still above where it started in 2022 and a year earlier,” said ATA chief economist Bob Costello. 

truck tonnage chart
(Source: American Trucking Associations)

“It is important to note that ATA’s for-hire tonnage data is dominated by contract freight with minimal amounts of spot market loads. The spot market has softened more than for-hire contract freight, as the market transitions back to pre-pandemic shares of contract versus spot market. While I expect contract freight to outperform spot market freight, the rate of growth will be slower than in 2021. Most contract carriers are still struggling with maintaining enough capacity, both equipment and drivers.”

Tonnage was up 1.8% compared to last April, the ATA said, marking the eighth straight year-over-year gain. So far this year, tonnage is up 2.3% compared to the same period in 2021.

Meanwhile, industry analyst FTR has reported shippers are facing their toughest conditions ever recorded, as fuel prices surge and capacity utilization remains at high levels.

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