Trucking Industry Trends March 2017

Tracking industry trends helps us predict what may happen in the future. Keep reading to learn about the latest trends in trucking, ocean traffic and rail.

U.S. Trucking Trends

In January 2017, the American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted truck tonnage index was up 2.6% 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.

Through the end of February 2017, the dry-van rates in the spot market were $1.63 per mile, which is up 3.7% year over year. The year-over-year growth is likely driven by higher fuel surcharges.

Dry van spot rates

The flatbed rates in the spot market were $1.84 per mile, up 7.9% year over year, through February 2017. The rate improvement is driven by higher fuel surcharges and depressed 2016 levels.

Flatbed spot rates

Global Containerized Ocean Traffic

During February 2017, inbound containerized ocean volumes at all U.S. ports fell 7.7% year over year. The full-year volumes to date have stayed virtually flat. Industry research points to low growth overall in the ocean freight environment.

Spot rates between Hong Kong and the U.S. West Coast are expected to stay moderate for the following months.

Sip charter lease rates remain depressed because the market is oversupplied in ocean capacity. Since 2008, capacity has grown 40%, while demand has only grown 20%. Rates are expected to increase moderately throughout 2017 due to the muted underlying demand.


During the first quarter of this year, CSX reported volumes up 1.7% year over year. Norfolk Southern reported carloads up 5% year over year during the same time period. CSX saw improved coal, auto and aggregate volumes. Norfolk Southern benefited from higher demand in metals, grains and intermodal share gains.

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