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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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 dropped across the board the week beginning Nov. 19, compared to the previous week. DAT reported:
- Dry van decreased from 2.0 to 1.6 loads per truck
- Reefer decreased from 3.4 to 1.8 loads per truck
- Flatbed dropped from 5.2 to 4.0 loads per truck
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.
National benchmark average rates were mixed during the week beginning Nov. 19, compared to the previous week.
Dry van rates increased by about 6 cents to $1.60 per mile. Reefer decreased by 2 cents to $1.93, whereas flatbed increased by 2 cents to $1.83.
In dry van, average spot rates are tracking similarly between California, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas, DAT Principal Analyst Dean Croke said on a weekly market update.
Spot linehaul rates
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 ATA Truck Tonnage Index increased by 1.1% to 115.2, compared to the prior month when seasonally adjusted.
"Despite the monthly gain, truck freight remains soft as it continues to contract on a year-over-year basis," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a monthly report, noting the spot market's weakness.
For-hire truck tonnage index
Preliminary trailer orders in October were over 34,000 units, increasing 21% month over month but down from over 48,000 units year over year, according to FTR data.
"Build improved 4% m/m in October but lagged net orders, so backlogs rose for only the second time in 2023," FTR said in a monthly report.
Net U.S. trailer orders
Truckload linehaul rates
The Truckload Linehaul Index from Cass measures per-mile linehaul rates. In the chart below, the baseline is 100, which represents conditions in 2005. Rates fluctuate as a result of supply, demand and balance (or a lack thereof) in the market, but they also include factors such as fuel prices and insurance costs.
The index, which includes spot and contract freight, erased a September gain, dropping in October by 0.6% to 141.1, Cass reported. That also marked an 8% decline year over year.
“The October level was a new cycle low, but only 0.1% below August, as truckload rate trends have been stabilizing, albeit still finding a bottom,” Cass said in a monthly report.
Truckload Linehaul Index
Class 8 orders
Preliminary Class 8 net orders decreased 10% from September to October, dropping from 31,200 units to 28,000, according to a monthly report from FTR. That was also a 35% decline from October 2022.
Despite the declines, FTR Chairman of the Board Eric Starks noted the "overall picture for truck demand is steady. Despite freight weakness, fleets continue to be willing to order new equipment, affirming our expectations of replacement demand during 2024."