Recent Transportation Industry Trends 2017

Each month we gather industry transportation trends. We compare statistics to previous years and months to predict what may happen in the industry in the coming months.

U.S. Trucking Trends

In December 2016, the American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted truck tonnage index was down 0.7% year over year. The truck tonnage index measures the gross tonnage of freight transported by motor carriers for a given month. It serves as an indicator of shipping activity in the U.S. By the end of 2016, tonnage was up 2.5% year over year overall. The slower year over year growth indicates the truckload freight volume growth remains tepid.

Dry-van rates in the spot market through January 2017 were $1.71 per mile based on a four-week rolling average. This rate is up 3% year over year.

Dry Van Spot Rates

Flatbed rates in the spot market were $1.80 per mile in January 2017 based on a trailing four-week basis. This rate is up 2.1% year over year. The rate improvement is likely driven by higher fuel surcharges.

Flatbed spot rates

Global Containerized Ocean Traffic

During January 2017, inbound containerized ocean volumes at all U.S. ports grew 7.4% year over year. The year over year growth in January is likely due to easier comps and an earlier Chinese New Year. Experts continue to believe the underlying ocean freight demand is soft.

The eastbound Trans-Pacific ocean container spot rates between Hong Kong and the U.S. West Coast remained elevated from 2016 through late January 2017.

Ship charter leases remain depressed because the market is oversupplied in ocean capacity. Since 2008, experts estimate ocean capacity has grown about 40% while demand has only grown about 20%. Rates will likely remain flat for the foreseeable future.

Rail Trends

CSX reported volumes are up 0.7% year over year for the first quarter of 2017. Norfolk Southern reported carloads up 4.9% year over year during the first quarter of 2017. CSX has seen improved chemical, crushed stone, sand and gravel volumes during the first part of the year. Norfolk Southern has seen higher volumes for metal and petroleum products in 2017.

If you are interested in learning more about recent industry trends, contact us.

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