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 decreased across multiple vehicle types the week starting Sept. 17, compared to the previous week. DAT reported:
- Dry van fell from 2.9 to 2.5 loads per truck
- Reefer fell from 3.6 to under 3 loads per truck
- Flatbed increased from 6.8 to nearly 7 loads per truck
Load posts on DAT's network decreased by 10.7% compared to the previous week and are down 47% YoY. Meanwhile, truck posts declined 2.1% for the week, a 13% decline YoY but higher than the same week in 2019.
The volume drop in reefer deepened, a somewhat concerning pattern, DAT's Dean Croke said in a weekly market update. "Reefer load posts (LP) volume has decreased 30% in the last month and has been flat since the July 4 break following last week’s 21% w/w decrease," he noted in a Tuesday blog post. "Typically, we see an increase in load post volume over that timeframe."
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.
Overall, national benchmark average rates declined during the week beginning Sept. 17 compared to the previous week. Dry van rates fell 2 cents to $1.55 per mile. Meanwhile, reefer dropped by 6 cents to $1.88, and flatbed decreased by 2 cents to $1.85.
"National benchmark line-haul rates declined and continued to languish below their four-week averages," DAT said in an email. "Heading into Q4, truckers are feeling the pressure of rising fuel prices and lower line-haul rates.”
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 tonnage index rose 0.2% in August to 115, compared to the prior month when seasonally adjusted.
The slight growth comes after the ATA revised its data to show July figures had risen by 1.1%, rather than decreased as it had initially reported.
“The evidence is growing that tonnage hit bottom in April and continues its slow climb upwards,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement.
The month's figures remained 2.3% below August 2022 levels, a trend which Costello said is to be expected since trucking tonnage peaked in September of last year.
"As a result, it is unlikely that tonnage turns positive compared with a year earlier for at least a month or two longer," Costello said. "Most recently, freight continues to be mixed, with consumer spending and factory output flat to down.”
For-hire truck tonnage index
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, slightly decreased by 0.5% from 142 in July to 141.3 in August, Cass reported. That also marked a roughly 12% decline YoY.
The index decline has been slower in the past three months than it was in the same period last year, likely as a result of stabilizing spot rates and smaller declines in contract rates, Cass said in a monthly report.
"We’ve recently heard anecdotes of fleets addressing unacceptable rates, with some success remediating sharp rate declines," the firm wrote. "While not likely widespread, this suggests rates are nearing their lows.”
Truckload Linehaul Index
Class 8 orders
Preliminary Class 8 net orders increased from July to August, rising from 13,500 units to 15,400, according to a monthly report from FTR. That was still a significant drop YoY, though, when nearly 21,000 units came in August 2022.
"Even though order activity is still below replacement demand, a key takeaway from the August data is that fleets are not shying away from ordering new equipment, which is a good sign for the second half of the year," FTR Chairman Eric Starks said in the report.
FTR noted last year's numbers were exceptionally strong, and orders for 2024 should start to appear in September and October.
Class 8 net truck orders in North America
Preliminary trailer orders in June were at 9,452 units, a 26% decline compared to the previous month and 61% drop YoY, according to FTR data.
The monthly total is higher than June 2019's amount of 5,571 units, but it's lower than every other June since then. The decline comes amid a seasonal slowing of the market that's expected to continue until the 2024 order books open for build slots, FTR reported.