Economic forces, consumer demand, seasonality, natural disasters and myriad other factors contribute to transport's cyclical market.
The charts below show the latest data on Class 8 truck orders, trailer orders, monthly tonnage, linehaul rates and load-to-truck ratios. We'll update this page frequently as new data is released.
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Spot linehaul rates
DAT’s linehaul rates measure the seven-day weekly moving average for spot rates in dry van, reefer and flatbed hauls. They often reflect the balance of supply and demand in the spot market. The rates are derived from DAT’s RateView database and do not include a fuel surcharge.
The national average dry van rate decreased by 3 cents to $1.66 per mile the week of March 12 to 18 compared to the previous week, according to DAT data. The reefer rate decreased by 2 cents to $1.97 per mile, and the flatbed rate increased by about 1 cent to $2.15 per mile.
The dry van rate was the lowest rate since June 2020. Carriers have noted plummeting demand and lingering challenges for the first half of 2023.
"It certainly looks like volumes will be relatively flat for the foreseeable future and moving sideways, according to some of the experts," DAT Principal Analyst Dean Croke said on a weekly market update.
Spot linehaul rates
Load-to-truck ratios from DAT Freight & Analytics serve as indicators of supply and demand in the spot market. The ratio is calculated based on the number of load posts compared to the number of truck posts on the DAT One load board. Ratio changes can signal upcoming fluctuations in spot rates.
Load-to-truck ratios decreased the week of March 19 to 25 compared to the previous week. DAT reported:
- Dry van fell from 2.1 to 1.9 loads per truck
- Reefer declined from 3.2 to 2.7 loads per truck
- Flatbed dropped from 16.3 to 14.3 loads per truck
For dry van, the change was the first time the ratio was below 2.0 since the week of May 10–16, 2020, DAT noted.
The American Trucking Associations has been tracking tonnage, calculating the index based on member surveys, since the 1970s. In the chart below, the baseline is 100, which represents conditions in 2015. Tonnage primarily reflects freight movement through contracts versus on the spot market.
The tonnage index was 118.4 in February when seasonally adjusted. That’s a slight increase from January's index.
"The fact that our index is growing sequentially and on a year-over-year basis demonstrates that contract freight continues to hold up at high levels," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in the release.
For-hire truck tonnage index
FTR's trailer data covers orders for dry vans, refrigerated vans and flatbeds. Orders for trailers, like the Class 8 orders, signal confidence in the market and anticipation of strong business conditions.
Preliminary trailer orders dropped from a December high to 26,000 in January, according to FTR data. That came as market uncertainty hit and over 346,000 units were placed on the books to be built in 2022, the organization said.
"The easing of orders was in line with expectations and further easing is expected as many build slots are already filled for the year," FTR said. "This was a solid start to 2023 even as economic uncertainties remain elevated.
Net U.S. trailer orders
Truckload linehaul rates
The index, which includes spot and contract freight, decreased from 149.2 in January to 148.6 in February, Cass reported. That marked a 6% decline YoY.
"With spot rates already down significantly, the larger contract market is likely to continue adjusting down, if more gradually, but in the same direction," Cass said once again in its monthly report.
Truckload Linehaul Index
Class 8 orders
Preliminary Class 8 net orders rose for the first time in five months in February, reaching 22,800 units, according to FTR. Order activity for the month was 13% higher than last month, and 10% higher than February 2022.
Eric Starks, chairman of the board for FTR, said order levels have been strong of late, which is a welcome sign for the industry.
“Over the past year, total net orders reached 303,000 units. In any market, this is a strong number. However, given the uncertainty in the economy, this is an especially welcome sign that demand has not collapsed and that fleets still have access to capital,” Starks said.