Index records ‘big swing’ for trucking

by Today's Trucking

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A Trucking Conditions Index recorded by the industry analysts at FTR has hit record levels just six months after hitting its lowest reading.

The October reading of 16.17 jumped to the highest level in 30 years, while the April numbers (-28.66) were tracked during the initial days of pandemic-related shutdowns.

The index reflects freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing. A positive reading reflects good, optimistic conditions. The high numbers reflect a surge in capacity utilization, stronger rates, and higher demand for freight.

“The big swing in the economy during the pandemic naturally produced a big swing for the trucking industry,” said Avery Vise, vice-president – trucking. “Government stimulus, pressure resulting from extraordinarily lean inventories, and a shift in consumer spending toward goods instead of services have combined to restore a huge chunk of the freight demand lost this spring.”

In the midst of it all, capacity and rates have improved in part because of “typical and extraordinary stresses” on driver supply, he said.

“Freight demand growth should moderate to a more sustainable level, but constraints on driver capacity will be hard to overcome until Covid-19 vaccines are widely available. The result should be a healthy environment for trucking even if freight demand were to prove a bit weaker than we are forecasting.

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