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Spot Truckload Freight Rates Seeing Seasonal Improvements

June 8, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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Rates on the spot truckload freight market turned higher over the past week amid optimism the usual seasonal bump in the spring and early summer has finally arrived, according to the freight matching service provider DAT Solutions.

Its load boards show for the week ending June 4, the higher rates came as a 9% decline in overall freight availability was outweighed by a 26% drop in spot market truck capacity.

The average van rate increased the most, 5.2% from the previous week, to $1.62 per mile, with a 1 cent increase in the average fuel surcharge. Outbound rates rose especially in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta.

Demand for vans decreased only 4% last week, rather than a 20% drop that would be expected during the four-day Memorial Day holiday work week. Capacity decreased 27%, which pushed the load-to-truck ratio up 31% to 2.5 to 1.

The average reefer rate increased 3.2% to $1.93 per mile that included a 2 cents increase in the national average fuel surcharge. The hike came despite outbound rates falling sharply out of Florida with places such as Lakeland averaging $1.70 per mile, compared to $1.89 per mile out of McAllen, Texas or $2.13 per mile out of Fresno, California.

Reefer load posts fell only 7% last week while truck capacity declined 18%, which yielded a 13% increase in the load-to-truck ratio, from 4.1 to 4.6 loads per truck.

The smallest rate hike was in the flatbed sector, improving just 0.5% to $1.93 per mile, due entirely to a 1 cent increase in the national average fuel surcharge. Rates varied greatly, from more than $3 per mile outbound from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to $1.69 per mile outbound from Phoenix.

Flatbed load posts were down 14% during last week's 4-day work week, while capacity was down 33%. That led to a 30% increase in the load-to-truck ratio, from 14.2 to 18.4 loads per truck.

Overall, the southern band of states still have the highest demand for trucks, but the Midwest and Northeast continue to heat up, according to Matt Sullivan, editor of DAT Carrier News on the company’s blog.

“Buffalo rates have been climbing for the past four weeks, while Chicago has been improving on what had been a disappointing spring up to this point. Atlanta is the top market for load posts on DAT Load Boards, and tighter capacity has led to higher rates there,” he said.

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