ATA: 'Truck tonnage also fell in March'

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The American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted truck tonnage index fell 3.2% in March. "This marks the second monthly decline after increasing for five consecutive months from September 2005 through January 2006.

Tonnage dropped 3.6% in February.

"The latest dip put the seasonally adjusted index at... its lowest level since November 2003," say American Trucking Associations (ATA) officials. "Compared with March 2005, the index was 2.6% lower."

According to ATA Vice President and Chief Economist Bob Costello, motor carriers anecdotally reported that freight volumes were weaker than normal during the first part of March, but rebounded by the end of the month and remained strong through early April.

"Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy because it represents nearly 70% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods," say ATA officials.

Trucks hauled 9.8 billion tons of freight in 2004.

Motor carriers collected $671 billion, or just under 88%, of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys of its members.

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