ECONOMIC WATCH: Trucking conditions hit worst levels ever in April

by Today's Trucking

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – U.S. trucking conditions hit their worst ever levels on the FTR Trucking Conditions Index in April, at -28.66 reflecting the contraction due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The previous low point was -16.08 in September 2008. Cost of fuel was positive for truckers, but demand, utilization and rates were in extreme negative territory, FTR reported.

The good news, however, is that FTR says April represented the bottom. But the pace of recovery remains uncertain. FTR projects its Trucking Conditions Index will improve sharply while remaining in negative territory through early 2021.

(Source: FTR)

“Spot market load volumes have recovered well since bottoming out in mid-April, although the recovery seems to have stalled out a bit,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice-president of trucking.

“The unprecedented depth and speed of the contraction and the severity of disruption in supply chains and freight networks will make it difficult to assess in the short run whether higher volumes are merely temporary or part of a sustained rebound. The critical question is what happens once consumers and businesses exhaust the trillions of dollars that Washington has pumped into the economy to offset the pandemic’s financial consequences. All that we can be sure about is that market conditions will not be as bad as they were in April.”

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  • In Ontario Canada over 20 percent of 20 truck drivers and mechanical people was off work in the last week of May. Many of these people getting C E R B or E I payments when the kids go back to school and these payments stop many truck drivers will be looking for work. This will cause lower freight rates and and many owner ops with their own authority and small trucking companies to close with current insurance costs. I talked to a tow driver that volunteers with the homeless truck drivers and he has picked up over 20 tractors in the last 3 weeks. Another agent who buys and sells trucks and trailers is getting 3 to 5 calls a day from finance companies and dealers with equipment that people are unable to keep payments up.