The American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.9 percent in September 2008, marking the third consecutive month-to-month drop. This index fell 1.6 percent in August and 0.9 percent in July. In September, the seasonally adjusted tonnage index equaled 112.6 (2000 = 100), its lowest level since October 2007. The not seasonally adjusted index rose 1.1 percent to 116.3 in September.

For the third quarter, the seasonally adjusted index contracted 1.2 percent compared with the second quarter, equating to a 4.8 percent annualized rate decrease.

The seasonally adjusted index was just 0.8 percent higher versus September 2007. While the index rose year-over-year because of weak 2007 volumes, it is quickly falling toward negative territory.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the recent decreases in truck tonnage are consistent with a recession. He forecasts a recession beginning in the 2008 third quarter and through the first quarter of 2009.