Fleet Management

Freight Movement Growth Slowing

September 24, 1999

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The growth in the amount of freight moved by truck is expected to slow, while currently California is producing the most loads and the best outbound-to-inbound load volume.

Heavy Duty Trucking's freight volume index has been rising at an annual rate of 4.25% through the summer quarter, and Newport Communications economist Jim Haughey predicts it will keep about the same pace through the rest of the year. Although that's down from a 6.8% annual rate of growth in the first six months of the year, he says the news is no need for concern.
"The economy is probably growing a little closer to 3.5%, so freight volume is doing a little better than the economy, and that's been true for more than a year," he says.
Haughey expects shipments of consumer durable goods, such as furniture and home electronics as well as automobiles and business investment equipment, to remain the hot commodities moved by truck the rest of this year and into 2000. In the farm market, volume is up this year but prices are way down, and this could force some farmers to hold off shipping livestock until late this year or early next year.
Currently, states with the most outbound loads are Illinois, Ohio, Texas, California and Pennsylvania, according to Michael Grant with DAT Services, which provides load-posting services.
If you look at the ratio of outbound loads to inbound loads - which affect your ability to get a load out of a given area after you've delivered - Grant says, "Flatbeds are hottest in the Southeast, with Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi running exceptionally good ratios. Tennessee and North Carolina were the only Southeast states that rated poorly."
For vans and reefers, Grant says, the outbound-to-inbound ratio is best in the West, although they have lower overall load-posting volumes. The Southwest is running the lowest overall ratio, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico. "California looks good with volumes and ratios for vans and reefers, but the posted available inbound flatbed loads outnumber outbound by about 10%, so I'd watch out" if considering taking a flatbed load to California, Grant says.

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