Fleet Management

Spot Truckload Rates Rebound, Freight Volume Unusually High

August 09, 2017

By Evan Lockridge

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We’re supposed to be in the dog days of summer but spot market truckload freight volumes are still higher than any month except June while August had a stronger start than any month in more than a year and a half, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

The surge of freight during the last full week of July continued into the week ending August 5, as the number of posted loads was nearly unchanged compared to the previous week while available truck capacity fell 2.1%.

National average van, flatbed, and refrigerated rates, which include fuel surcharges, all increased.

 For van freight, load posts edged up 2% while truck posts fell 3%, bumping the van load-to-truck ratio from 5.2 to 1 to 5.5 to 1.

The national average van rate increased 3 cents to $1.82 per mile, higher than the average rates for June and July. The biggest rate jumps were on lanes heading to retail distribution centers in the Northeast in advance of back-to-school shopping season.

 Buffalo saw the largest average rate gain of any major van market last week, up 11 cents to $1.98 per mile. Other key outbound markets:

  • Chicago, $2.15 per mile, up 7 cents
  • Dallas, $1.74 per mile, up 2 cents
  • Los Angeles, $2.12 per mile, down 1 cent
  • Atlanta, $2.09 per mile, down 1 cent

Flatbed load posts declined 7% last week while the number of truck posts rose 2%. That caused the load-to-truck ratio to decline 9% to 34 loads per truck, still a very high ratio for this time of year

At $2.22 per mile, the national average flatbed rate was 3 cents higher compared to the previous week and posted its highest level out of the last four weeks.  

Overall, 18% more flatbed loads moved last week than the week before and rates are holding up well especially in the Midwest. Rock Island, Illinois averaged $2.75 per mile, up 25 cents, while Cleveland hit $2.25 per mile, up 17 cents.

Nationally, reefer load posts increased 4% and truck posts fell 2%, causing the load-to-truck ratio to increase 6% to 9.6 to 1, well above the level from a year ago.

The average reefer rate rose 4 cents to $2.12 per mile, matching its best showing since the week ending July 15.

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