Trucking markets: Volumes stabilize

Two quotes from Chicago freight brokerage executives this morning can sum up trucking markets: “Freight is moving for free; spot markets are gross” and “revenue per load is the lowest I’ve ever seen in my career.”

While national contracted truckload volumes have stabilized at -8.8% year-over-year, rates in most lanes fell sharply again. Notable exceptions to the overall volume trend include Dallas, Harrisburg and Allentown, which all saw positive volume growth week-over-week. Among second-tier markets, Salt Lake City and Grand Rapids posted strong weekly volume performances.

Only 3.5% of contracted loads are being rejected by carriers, starving spot markets of freight. More significant than the percentage of rejected loads is the fact that asset-based carriers have been able to allocate capacity to their customers and cover their contracted volumes, adjusting their networks to the new reality. 

Though some states are now discussing re-opening businesses in May, it’s far from obvious how that will translate into consumer demand, economic activity and freight demand. In our view, capacity will be loose and volumes will be very low until the national economy is growing again.

Dedicated reefer volumes continue to be the most resilient part of the freight market, while flatbed tender rejections are now below 2%.

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