Spot truckload freight activity in June rallied to record highs for the number of available loads while rates rose to their highest points in nearly two years, according to the DAT North American Freight Index.
The June level increased 24% compared to May and was up 57% year-over-year, capping a robust first half of the year. The surge also places the measure higher than where it was at any point in the past three years
Van freight activity jumped 35% compared to May and 68% year-over-year. Refrigerated freight made similar gains, up 23% compared to May and 66% year-over-year.
Flatbed freight, which includes construction materials and machinery, showed more modest gains. Activity increased 14% compared to May. Year-over-year gains were more substantial for flatbeds, up 66% compared to June 2016.
Brokers and shippers had a harder time finding trucks and paid a premium in most major markets and lanes, according to DAT.
Compared to May, the van rate gained 11 cents for an average of $1.80 per mile while the reefer rate was up 10 cents to an average $2.12 per mile. The flatbed rate averaged $2.16 per mile, up 6 cents in June from May.
Spot truckload rates incorporate a fuel surcharge which is tied to the average price of on-highway diesel which has fallen 7 cents per gallon since the start of 2017.
“Spot rates have remained strong for all three equipment types even though the surcharge portion has been shrinking compared to previous years,” said Mark Montague, DAT industry pricing analyst.
He said that July typically is a month of transition, when freight activity begins tapering off until the end-of-year holiday season. This year may be an exception, however, as load availability and pricing trends remained strong in the first week of July.