FTR is forecasting stable trucking conditions for 2016 after its Trucking Conditions Index rose more than two points in December to a reading of 10.88.
FTR expects 2016 to be a calm year, with little or no change from the current conditions of tight, but adequate capacity. It cautions that this forecast could change if certain events occur, for instance, if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reinstates controversial and productivity-sapping hours of service changes or if weather affects productivity more than anticipated.
“The trucking environment is still quite healthy,” said Jonathan Starks, chief operating officer of FTR. “There is no doubt that growth has slowed for certain segments, and there are increasing uncertainties surrounding growth prospects for the U.S. economy.”
Truck loadings are expected to continue growing at 3% for the year, but recent eceonomic data heightens the potential for this to change. Falling oil and fuel prices are a help to some carriers, but that is offset by declining spot market rates.
“Contract rates are still rising, albeit slowly, and there is very little capacity that is exiting the system,” said Starks. “Overall, the trucking industry seems to be in a relatively stable environment as we move into 2016.”