The spot truckload market finished August on a higher note as rates and the number of available loads moved higher during the week ending Sept. 3, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

Helping this was an 8.4% increase in the number of available loads while truck posts fell 2.5% compared to the week before. During the period the national average cost of diesel was unchanged from the week before at $2.41 per gallon.

The national average van rate gained 6 cents, the reefer rate added 3 cents and the flatbed rate picked up a penny after a mostly lackluster month. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

Load-to-truck ratios got a healthy boost, an indication that the higher rates may outlast end-of-month and pre-holiday pressure, according to DAT.

Van load posts increased 13% and truck posts fell 2% for a load-to-truck ratio of 3.2 to 1, the highest ratio since July. The spike in freight volume pushed the national average van rate to $1.66 mile and its best showing out of the previous four weeks.

In the Midwest, a 4% increase in freight volume sparked an 8 cents per-mile jump to $1.99 per mile on outbound lanes from Chicago. Rates out of Columbus averaged $1.90 mile, up 6 cents. Van volumes and rates were strong in the Southeast with Charlotte gaining 6 cents to $1.94 per mile, Atlanta up 4 cents to $1.87 per mile and Memphis adding 4 cents to $1.86 per mile.

Other top-paying markets by region:

  • West: Los Angeles, $2.02 per mile, up 2 cents
  • South Central: Houston, $1.50 per mile, up 3 cents
  • Northeast: Allentown, Pennsylvania, $2.09 per mile, up 10 cents

In the reefer sector, the number of load posts increased 11% last week while capacity declined 2%. That boosted the reefer load-to-truck ratio 14% to 6.6 loads per truck. The national average reefer rate clocked in at $1.92 per mile, its best performance in the past four weeks, that including a 1-cent increase in the fuel surcharge.

In California, average outbound rates were generally strong including a 5 cents jump in the rate from Los Angeles at $2.46 per mile. Idaho potato harvests led to higher volumes out of Twin Falls but outbound rates slipped leading up to the Labor Day weekend, according to DAT,

Several key reefer-freight lanes remained strong:

  • Atlanta-Lakeland, Florida; $2.84 per mile, up 6 cents
  • Elizabeth, New Jersey-Boston; $3.55 per mile, down 3 cents
  • Chicago outbound; $2.35 per mile, up 14 cents

Meantime, the number of flatbed load posts was steady while truck posts declined 4%. That pushed the load-to-truck ratio up 4% to 10.1 loads per truck. The national average flatbed moved up to $1.91 per mile due entirely to a hike in the fuel surcharge.