Spot Freight Rates Continue Dip Amid Greater Trucker Capacity

February 7, 2018

By Evan Lockridge

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National average spot truckload rates continued their decline into February but remain unseasonably high, according to new figures based on the DAT Solutions network of load boards.

This happened as the number of available loads slipped nearly 6% for the week ending Feb. 3 from the previous week as the number of truck posts increased 3%. This also pushed dry van and refrigerated load-to-truck ratios down to near mid-December levels, before the mandate on electronic logging devices took effect.

  • Vans: 6.9 available loads per truck
  • Flatbeds: 61.1 loads per truck
  • Reefers: 10.2 loads per truck

National average rates dropped 3 cents for van freight to $2.23 per mile, 8 cents for reefers to $2.59 per mile, and 13 cents for flatbeds at $2.26 per mile. The price of diesel rose again, with the national average up 1.6 cents to $3.09 per gallon. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

Heading into what is traditionally a slow month, the number of van loads posted declined 16% and truck posts rose 4%. Van rates fell in nearly every major market, although prices are higher than they were a year ago. Chicago’s outbound average had the sharpest decline last week, down 16 cents to $2.77 per mile after a 15-cent drop the previous week. Other noteable declines include:

  • Houston, $2.00 per mile, down 6 cents
  • Memphis, $2.54 per mile, down 1 cent
  • Los Angeles, $2.32 per mile, down 9 cents
  • Columbus, Ohio, $2.29 per mile, down 8 cents

Reefer load posts fell 19% and truck posts increased 2%. Prices remain high even though rates on most high-traffic lanes were down. Long-haul lanes from the southern border took big steps back, including McAllen, Texas - Elizabeth, New Jersey, down 51 cents to $2.76 per mile; and Nogales, Arizona - Brooklyn, down 79 cents to $2.43 per mile.

Spot prices for flatbed freight remain solid amid improved demand for capacity. Load posts increased 13% and truck posts declined 2%. The 61.9 to 1 load-to-truck is the second highest flatbed load-to-truck ratio seen in years.


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