Rates on one spot market have recovered a bit, but are still off levels of where they were late last month.

DAT overall spot market load availability increased 2.3% September 15-21, compared to the previous seven days. This follows earlier released figures showing August was down 1.8% from the month before but was up 16% compared to the same time a year ago.

DAT map shows where load-to-truck ratios are the best for vans.

DAT map shows where load-to-truck ratios are the best for vans.

Rates increased in all three major sectors, with the biggest hike recorded in the van category, up 1.1% during the same time, for an average of $1.87 per mile, still two-cents lower than two weeks ago. Rates for flatbeds added 1%, averaging $2.09 per mile, which is still down 10 cents form three weeks ago. Reefers showed the smallest gain, increasing 0.5%, for an average of $2.18 per mile, its second best performance out of the past four weeks.

Load-to-truck ratios also improved in all categores, with flatbeds leading the way with a 8.4% change, followed by reefers picking up 7.3% and vans adding 3.2%.

DAT says the gains come following a brief dip after an unusually stronger than normal July and August. “This year, freight availability is remaining at or near June levels right through August and well into September, and rates are elevated as well,” wrote Analyst Mark Mongague on the DAT Freight Talk blog.

“Freight is plentiful and trucks are getting tight in certain regions and markets,” he added. A good representation of what Montague describes can be seen by looking at a map that depicts the load-to-truck ratios on the DAT Load Board in each of 153 key market areas or pricing "pods" throughout North America.

He also notes there is a lot of the pressure on rates that is coming from abundant freight at major sea ports and distribution hubs. “We see imported goods arriving from Asia through L.A., Long Beach and, to a lesser extent, Seattle,” he said. “Load posts are up more than 50% in L.A. compared to last year at this time. European imports are driving rates up in Charlotte, NC, and some ships traverse the Panama Canal or the Gulf of Mexico to reach Houston.”