FTR Shippers Conditions Index Remains Mired in Negative Territory


Bloomington, IN (November 19, 2013) FTR's Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) improved marginally in September but remained deep in negative territory, rising 0.8 points from the previous month to a current reading of -7.9.  However even this small improvement in the environment affecting shippers is not expected to hold.  There is mounting evidence of trucking rate increases, in addition to price increases in the spot market, as a consequence of falling productivity due to new Hours of Service rules.  Truckload carriers are reporting H.O.S. productivity losses in the range of three to five percent and Owner/Operators are exiting the industry at a time when freight tonnage is still growing. The results are expected to be ever-tightening capacity with shipping cost increases and a likely negative turn in the Shippers Conditions Index in late 2013.

Click here to view the latest release and an interactive graph of the SCI>

Larry Gross, Senior Consultant for FTR, commented: "The productivity effects of the HOS revisions are coming in about where we expected and rates are beginning to move upward in response.  However, we are hearing anecdotes from carriers regarding experienced drivers who are becoming fed up with the lack of flexibility and personal control over where and when they can take their extended rest period and are turning in the keys to their truck for good.  We have not included such driver losses in our projections and therefore our view of the anticipated effects of the HOS revisions may have been understated."

The Shippers Conditions Index is a compilation of factors affecting shippers transport environment. Any reading below zero indicates a less-than-ideal environment for shippers. Readings below 10 signal that conditions for shippers are approaching critical levels, based on available capacity and expected rates. 

Details of the factors affecting the September Shippers Conditions Index along with additional commentary discussing the U.S. federal budget debate and what it means to trucking are included in the November issue of FTR's Shippers Update published October 11, 2013.   

The Shippers Update, launched by FTR during 2010 as a part of the firm’s Freight Focus series, looks at conditions that will affect the cost and efficiency of shipping goods via all transportation modes. North American shippers will find in one reference the essential information they need on freight volumes, equipment capacity and transport costs and rates. The Shippers Update has both history and forecasts for four modal options: truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal and rail carload. The analysis includes the breakdown of total truck and rail volumes into major commodity segments. It also provides historical snapshots of inland water and air freight markets. The freight data is augmented by an abundant collection of supporting data covering macro-economics and the fuel market.

For more information about how to subscribe to the Shippers Update, send an e-mail to [email protected] or call (888) 988-1699 ext. 1.