Flatbed truck hauling freightTonnage’s 3.8% annual gain marked the 16th consecutive year-over-year increase. (vitpho/Getty Images)

Truck tonnage rose 3.8% in 2022 compared with the prior year, posting the highest year-over-year gain in four years despite closing out with modest December results, American Trucking Associations reported.

The ATA For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index inched up 0.3% to 115.2 compared with December 2021, and was up 0.4% compared with the 114.8 results reported in November, the federation said Jan. 24.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the annual 3.8% gain was the strongest since 2018, and marked the 16th consecutive year-over-year increase. Still, it was the smallest annual jump over that span and reflected a freight market that slowed as the year drew to a close, he said.

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“Despite the small gain in December, for-hire truck tonnage clearly decelerated during the final quarter in 2022,” Costello said. “The index’s yearly gains were primarily driven by strength in the first half of 2022, so despite a marked slowdown as the year ended, for the year as a whole tonnage posted a very solid year overall.”

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Bob Costello

Costello 

Costello noted that trucking was faring better than some other sectors.

“Tonnage outperformed some other key metrics that drive truck freight, like housing starts and factory output during the final month of the year,” he said. “This is probably because contract truckload freight is still outperforming the spot market and less-than-truckload freight after underperforming both of those sectors in 2021.”

Costello added, “2022 overall was a solid year for truck freight tonnage.”

ATA since the 1970s has been calculating the tonnage index, which is based on surveys from its membership. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, economic comparisons and key financial indicators.

ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.

Trucking represents 72.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods, per ATA.