In March, load availability began its usual aggressive climb into the spring shipping season, with March growth in volume 50 percent over February - just about average compared to last year's numbers. "That's good news for truckers after several months of sub-par load performance," says Jeanne Danielson, DAT customer relations manager. "Volumes are still low, but at least near normal growth is returning."
Joe Neichetzil, DAT market research manager, says that excess inventory that has contributed to a trucking slump is working its way down. "By May levels, we should see more of a pickup," he says. "In fact, I would go so far as to say we've seen the bottom of this economic downturn. We've seen some signals with construction spending that's up; we're going to see by the third quarter things picking up and load volumes increasing."
All regions showed a significant increase in load availability last month. The East Central and Southeast regions had the most; together they had over 50 percent of total loads in march.
DAT expects total load postings to continue to grow throughout April. The Southwest and the Southeast should see the highest rate of increase this month, Danielson predicts, as spring is typically their busiest season.
"For overall load volume, the Southeast is your best bet," she says. "In past years, the region held almost 1/3 of spring loads. And with 28 percent of March's load volume, it's well on way to continuing this trend."
Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and South Carolina are all high volume states with good inbound-to-outbound ratios, Danielson says. Oregon, Mississippi and Arkansas also have excellent inbound-to-outbound ratios but have lower volume.
"Watch out for Texas, Florida, and New York," she says. "These states have high load volumes, but with bad inbound/outbound ratings, you'll be competing for these loads."
Flatbeds can look to Alabama and Arkansas for lots of loads, while Tennessee is strong for vans and reefers.