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Less Freight, More Trucks Push Spot Truckload Rates Lower

August 17, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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Average DAT spot market rates over the past four weeks. Graphic: DAT
Average DAT spot market rates over the past four weeks. Graphic: DAT

A decline in the amount of freight on the spot truckload market coupled with an increase in the number of trucks needing cargo,pushed rates down across the board, according to new weekly figures from DAT Solutions that are based on its network of load boards.

Overall freight availability fell 6.2% while truck postings increased 3.1% for the week ending August 13 compared to the previous week as the average diesel fuel price declined 0.4% to $2.31 per gallon.

The average dry van rate gave up 3 cents, hitting $1.61 per mile, which included a 1-cent drop in the average fuel surcharge. While outbound rates increased in Seattle and Allentown, they fell in Chicago and Atlanta. The average dry van rate is now lower than the June average for the first time in six weeks, a transition that typically occurs in the first week of July, according to DAT.

Likewise, the average reefer rate lost 3 cents, registering $1.90 per mile and is down 6 cents from three weeks earlier. Reefer prices rose in major markets in the Midwest, but were lower in the Northeast.

Flatbeds posted the smallest drop, just 1-cent and entirely due to a decline in the fuel surcharge, pushing the average rate to where it was two weeks earlier at $1.92 per mile.

Not surprisingly, with less freight and a hike in the number of truck postings, load-to-truck ratios fell in all three freight categories. The biggest was in the flatbed sector, falling 14% to 11 loads per truck. Flatbed load posts declined 11% last week while truck posts increased 4%.

The 7% drop in the van load-to-truck ratio happened as van load posts declined 4% last week and truck posts increased 3% yielding 2.5 loads per truck. Reefers were not far behind with a 5.5% drop. Reefer load posts edged down 3% last week while truck posts added 3%. That resulted in the load-to-truck ratio moving to 5 to 1.

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