"This was a tough season to be looking for loads," says Market Research Analyst Michael Grant with load-matching company DAT Services. Load volumes usually begin a seasonal pickup in March, he says, and the last days of February did show some increases. "Expect to see some seasonal relief in March, but not enough to overpower the tight market and lost volumes from last year," Grant says.
The Midwest held its ground better than any other region over the winter. However, the Western, Southeast and Eastern Seaboard regions have not performed as well, with load volumes far below last year's levels. March should see volume increases in all regions, Grant says, with the best improvements in the Southeast and Southwest regions.
This time of year, load volumes and outbound load ratios are typically best in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia and Tennessee, Grant says. Other good states for loads would be Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. Although they have much lower volumes, they typically have good outbound load ratios. Watch out for Texas, Florida and North Carolina, Grant says. They will have high volumes, but they tend to have very poor outbound load ratios this time of year.
For van and reefer loads, look for the best volumes out of Ohio, Illinois, Georgia and Tennessee. Texas should have nearly as high van volumes, but very poor ratios, meaning much more competition, Grant says. Top flatbed states should be Ohio, Illinois and Georgia.
For weekly updates, check out the DAT Hot Index on Truckinginfo.com.