FTR’s April Trucking Conditions Index Lowest Ever Ahead of Expected Improvement

06.11.20 | FTR

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index reading for April was the lowest ever at -28.66, reflecting the contraction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous low was -16.08 in September 2008. The only significant positive factor for the TCI was the cost of fuel; demand, utilization, and rates were extremely negative.
April represented the bottom for most freight-related economic indicators, a conclusion confirmed by an uptick in payroll employment in May, but the pace of recovery remains uncertain. We expect post-April trucking conditions to improve sharply while remaining in negative territory through early 2021. However, we are prepared for significant revisions in the outlook as we see more data on demand, capacity, and utilization.

Details of the April TCI are found in the June issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published May 28. Additional commentary provides updates on the COVID-19 discussion and the uncertainties likely to impact the recovery, especially in terms of capacity. Along with the TCI and COVID-19 analysis, the Trucking Update includes data and analysis on load volumes, the capacity environment, rates, costs, and the truck driver situation.


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

Avery Vise, vice president of trucking, commented, “Spot market load volumes have recovered well since bottoming out in mid-April, although the recovery seems to have stalled out a bit. The unprecedented depth and speed of the contraction and the severity of disruption in supply chains and freight networks will make it difficult to assess in the short run whether higher volumes are merely temporary or part of a sustained rebound. The critical question is what happens once consumers and businesses exhaust the trillions of dollars that Washington has pumped into the economy to offset the pandemic’s financial consequences. All that we can be sure about is that market conditions will not be as bad as they were in April.”
The TCI tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market. These conditions are: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing. The individual metrics are combined into a single index indicating the industry’s overall health. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings (up or down) suggest significant operating changes are likely.

Trucking Update, published monthly, is part of FTR’s Freight Focus and reports data that directly impacts the activity and profitability of truck fleets. As part of Trucking Update, FTR forecasts expected trends in this data and the probable short and long term consequences.
Click here to download a sample report >

About FTR
For more than 30 years, FTR has served as the industry leader in freight transportation forecasting for the shipping, trucking, rail, intermodal, equipment, and financial communities in North America. FTR’s experts, with over 250 years of combined experience in the transportation industry, provide quantitative analysis with historical and modal-specific insights. FTR’s reports, data, commentary, and insights help clients evaluate market risks, identify new opportunities, and make informed decisions.
FTR is the only company with a complete set of freight data for all modes of transportation with detail at the 3 Digit STCC commodity level. FTR tracks and forecasts 200+ unique commodity groups both quarterly and annually using their proprietary Freight•cast U.S. freight transportation model. FTR’s Transportation Conference held annually in September in Indianapolis is a unique event bringing together every aspect of the freight transportation world into one place. For more information  

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