Transportation Industry Updates May 2018

Every month we take a look at the most recent transportation industry trends to help plan for the future. Discover the industry trends for May 2018.

U.S. Trucking

The American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted Truck Tonnage Index increased 6.3% year over year in March, slowing slightly from the 7.7% year over year gain in February. As a three-month moving average, tonnage was up 7.5% through the first quarter of 2018. Year-to-date tonnage is up 7.4%, doubling that of the same time period in 2017.

Truckload spot rates remain higher through April, supporting market-wide increases. Dry-van spot market rate averages in April were $2.21, up 25% year over year. Average flatbed spot market rates of $2.66 per mile are running 28% more than in 2017, and up drastically from the second quarter of 2017, where it ran at $2.20 per mile.

Average truckload rates overall were up 7.2% year over year in March, the strongest growth rate since January 2015, and is a direct result of capacity scarcity due to improving demand trends. The forecast for the remainder of 2018 is 8-11% above 2017.

Rail Trends

Through the first five weeks of the second quarter of 2018, CSX reports volume growth of 2% year over year, its first gain since the third quarter of 2017, with key growths in the coal and automotive sectors. BNSF’s volume growth is trending above that, with quarter-to-date numbers up 7.2% year over year. In the same period, Union Pacific is also up 3.8%.

In March, intermodal prices were up nearly 6% year over year, growing at their fastest rate since early 2012. Indications are that the intermodal price increases are being supported by the rising truckload prices.

Containerized Ocean Traffic

U.S. container imports were down .2% in March, but remain up year-to-date at 8.5%. West Coast imports were up 1%, East Coast down 2.6% and the Gulf Coast up 6%.

Rates from Hong Kong to the U.S. were below last year for the first quarter, but have increased 3% in the second quarter. They are forecasted to remain at that level throughout 2018.

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