The DAT North American Freight Index reports a softer spot market in September. The seasonal decline in overall freight volume was attributed to a reduction in flatbed and reefer freight availability.

Both equipment types experienced a decline month-over-month. However, while flatbed volumes were down compared to the prior year by 13%, reefer freight volumes rose by 1.1% when compared with September 2011.

According to DAT, van freight volume showed modest gains, rising month-over-month as well as year-over-year. The net effect was an overall decline in spot market freight volume of 13% compared to August and 8.4% compared to September 2011.

Truckload freight rates on the spot market continued the seasonal decline that began in July, although reefer and flatbed rates were up compared to September 2011. Reefer rates dipped 1.2% month-over-month but increased 2.5% year-over-year.

Flatbed rates dipped 1.1% for the month but rose 1.2% when compared to the same month last year. Rates for dry vans declined 1.5% compared to August and 1.5% versus September 2011.

Rates are derived from the DAT Truckload Rate Index, and do not include fuel surcharges, which rose in September on both a month-over-month and year-over-year basis. Spot market rates are paid by brokers and 3PLs to the carrier.

Looking ahead to November, the Midwest is the place for freight. Relatively high load volumes and a favorable ratio of outbound loads are likely to be found in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Tennessee is also strong, as Memphis continues to shine as a regional hub.