The trucking capacity rebalancing that was taking place in the U.S. has been interrupted with the spread of the Omicron Covid variant, according to ACT Research’s For-Hire Trucking Index in December.
“The Driver Availability Index decreased 2.4 points in December, to 35.5 from November’s 37.9, reflecting the impact of the Omicron variant on both absenteeism and recruiting. Positively, Omicron’s case pattern appears more needle-shaped, and US cases have already begun to fall, so this wave is likely to be short-lived,” said Tim Denoyer, ACT’s vice-president and senior analyst.
“Freight markets remain tight with elevated demand and Omicron impacting driver availability, and ACT’s For-Hire Pricing Index rose 1.7 points, to 72.0 (SA) in December from November’s 70.3.”
Regarding capacity, Denoyer noted, “The Capacity Index decreased 2.9 points in December, and while down from November’s reading, which was a two-year high, it is still significantly above the trend of the past two years. Omicron’s negative impact on driver availability is affecting fleet capacity in the short-term, but, with extraordinary stimulus in the rear view, drivers have started to respond to significant bonuses and wage increases in greater numbers. That said, equipment production is still challenged, and the sustainability of the improvement will be interesting to watch in the coming months. Given the major supply challenges, we still anticipate capacity growth to be slow for a while.”
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