Recent Trucking Industry Trends & Information

Information sources: Georgia Innovation, Morgan Stanley Index, Cleveland Research

When we look at trends over a period of time and compare to another period of time, it can help us to understand what may happen in the future. The following statistics are from recent months.

U.S Trucking

The adjusted truck tonnage index was 5% higher year over year for the month of December 2014. November’s year over year gain was 4.5%. In 2014 the tonnage was up 3.5% year over year compared to the tonnage increase in 2013 of 6.25% year over year. There was no change in the tonnage index month over month in December, after the 3.5% increase month over month in November of 2014.

The van rates in the spot market through the beginning of February 2015 were about $1.90 per mile. The weather has eased demand the past few months along with the lower diesel prices that have reduced fuel surcharges. A four-week rolling average shows that the spot rates are 4.5% lower year over year. Shippers have reported seeing 5-7% rate increases excluding fuel in 2015 compared to the 3-5% year over year in 2014.

The flatbed rates through early February were, on average, $2.05 per mile which is down 1.25% year over year. The recent lower fuel surcharges have contributed to the recent decline in the spot rates.

Global Containerized Ocean Traffic

The inbound ocean volumes for December at all U.S. ports increased 8.0% year over year. In 2014, the volumes were up 6% compared to 2013. The higher growth in 2014 appears to be driven by congestion at the West Coast ports. The congestion pushed volumes from November into December.

The Eastbound trans-Pacific ocean container spot rates between Hong Kong and the U.S. West Coast fluctuated in January 2015. At the end of the month, the rates were 1.5% lower than at this time in 2014.
By January 1, 2015 the shipyards around the world held orders for 450+ new containerships with an aggregate capacity of approximately 3.39 million TEUs. This represents approximately 18.5% of the existing world fleet. Capacity growth has outpaced demand. In the following years, container capacity is projected to rise nearly 8% in 2015 and 5-6% in 2016.


Through the end of January 2015, it was reported by CSX that Q1 volumes were up 8% year over year. NSC reported the carloads were up 8.25% during the same time. Another thing to note is that CSX coal volumes have been up year over year due to replenishment of utility stockpiles.

UNP reported Q4 2014 volumes were up about 1%year over year through the end of January 2015.

Fuel Trends

Our best analysis shows the future prices for fuel per $/gallon will be stable in 2015, with a slight upward impulsion in 2016. We are forecasting petroleum will stay between $45-$55 per barrel the remainder of this year. We expect the price per barrel of petroleum to increase in 2016 to $60-$65 per barrel.

See the graph below:

Fuel Trends 2015

For more information on industry trends, please contact us.

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