Truck tonnage fell 1.1% in April, says ATA

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Truck tonnage declined 1.1% in April, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which also has revised March's tonnage reading to reflect a 1.7% drop, instead of the previously reported 3.2% decline.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says the upward revision to March’s tonnage was "very positive," but notes that freight remains mixed.

"Truck tonnage hasn’t grown since January of this year on a month-to-month basis, suggesting the overall economy remains very soft. With that said, the fact that tonnage is showing sustained year-over-year growth is positive for the industry, although part of the strength is due to easy comparisons from 2007."

Rapidly rising fuel prices are by far a bigger problem for the motor carrier industry than freight volumes, says Costello.

"Surging fuel prices are weighing heavily on consumers. Since trucks haul virtually all consumer goods at some point in the supply chain, the industry is going to be significantly impacted both directly through higher diesel prices and indirectly as consumers pay more for gasoline and have less money to spend on truck-transported goods."

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