Economic Trucking Trends: More capacity in Canada’s spot market, U.S. rates continue to gain

Trucking companies that haul automotive parts or finished vehicles may soon feel the pinch as there appears to be no quick end in sight to a strike by UAW workers at the Big 3 car plants. Not what the industry wants to see as conditions gradually improve.

Canada’s spot market has more volume, but more trucks chasing that volume. And in the U.S., it looks like the bottom is in as spot market rates continue their slow climb.

spot market infographic

More loads and trucks in Canada’s spot market

Canadian spot market load volumes moved up 4% in August, according to Loadlink Technologies, while equipment postings also rose. The 11% jump in equipment postings were the highest recorded truck volumes in a single month, surpassing May of this year, Loadlink reported.

The biggest gains for volumes were outbound loads to the U.S., up 22% form July but down 23% year over year. Inbound cross-border loads were flat, and intra-Canada loads ticked up just 2%.

There were 5.05 trucks posted for every available load, up from 4.85 in July, a 4% increase in the truck-to-load ratio. That ratio was also up year over year to the tune of 45%.

U.S. spot market rates continue to improve

South of the border, there was a continuing improvement in spot market rates for the week ended Sept. 8, according to and FTR Transportation Intelligence. This was the third straight week of pricing gains for the first time since March.

spot market rates

Even flatbed — which has of late been a drag on overall spot market rates — saw improvements. The segment had its strongest weekly increase since early February and its first back-to-back monthly increases since May.

Refrigerated rates were flat and dry van rates saw a modest uptick.

“As expected, volume was down during the week, which included the Labor Day holiday. With a steeper decline in truck postings, however, the Market Demand Index rose to 56.6, which is the strongest level since the end of June,” and FTR said in a release.

car production line with unfinished cars in a row
(Photo: iStock)

Trucking conditions to improve slowly

I spent the early part of this week in Indianapolis covering FTR’s 2023 Transportation Conference. You can find a summary here of what the industry forecaster thinks the future holds for truckers. In short, improving conditions but the recovery will be gradual.

Of course a wild card for freight will be the UAW strike at the Big 3 North American car plants. That became a reality today, with workers setting up picket lines and walking off the job.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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