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 equipment types the week beginning Feb. 11 compared to the previous seven-day period. DAT reported:
- Dry van decreased from 1.4 to 1.2 loads per truck
- Reefer decreased from 2.3 to 1.9 loads per truck
- Flatbed decreased from 6.7 to 6.5 loads per truck
“Demand for trucks on the spot market continued to soften, which is typical for February,” DAT said in an email. “But the number of load posts on DAT One was the lowest for Week 7 in at least the last eight years. The number of trucks on the network continued to fall, a sign that capacity levels are normalizing after the surge in new carrier entities from 2021 and 2022.”
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 dropped across equipment types during the week beginning Feb. 11, compared to the previous week. Dry van decreased by 5 cents to $1.60, reefer decreased by 9 cents to $1.90, and flatbed decreased by 3 cents to $1.93, per DAT data.
“Since spot rates are still decreasing, it's safe to assume that for contract rates to stop also decreasing (active and replacement rates) and begin the next upcycle, spot rates will need to start rising consistently,” DAT Principal Analyst Dean Croke said in an email to Trucking Dive.
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 decreased 3.5% in January to 111 compared to the previous month when seasonally adjusted. The organization also revised December's figure downward to 115 from its initial release.
“January’s data was a snap back to reality for anyone thinking the freight market was about to turn the corner,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a monthly report.
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, decreased in January by 0.6% to 140.4, Cass reported. That’s a 5.9% decline year over year, the narrowest in the past year, wrote the report's author, Tim Denoyer of ACT Research.
Truckload Linehaul Index
Net trailer orders fell 34% to 15,518 units from December to January, according to FTR data. That was a 38% drop YoY.
With a backlog-to-build ratio remaining at 7.1 months, signs are pointing toward normalization and stability, FTR Chairman Eric Starks said in a monthly report.
Net U.S. trailer orders
Class 8 orders
Preliminary Class 8 net orders January increased year over year, jumping from 21,600 units in 2022 to 26,400 units in 2023, according to a monthly report from FTR.
"It was a mixed market for OEMs this month with some seeing increases and others seeing decreases in orders," FTR Chairman of the Board Eric Starks said in the report. "Fleets continue to be willing to order new equipment despite uncertainty in the freight market."