FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for May Remains at Full Capacity

07.19.18 | FTR

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) was unchanged for May at a reading of 11.4 reflecting continued full capacity utilization.  Trucking conditions are only expected to improve as freight season enters its peak with the TCI reading growing further through the calendar year and likely into 2019. Excluding fuel surcharges, total truckload rates are forecast to be up an estimated 13% for all of 2018. As more capacity is slated to come on line, 2019 trucking conditions may moderate somewhat but they will still outpace recent years.

Details of the May TCI are found in the July issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published June 28, 2018. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ section in the current issue discusses the unaccustomed uncertainty introduced to the economy from tariffs and a potential trade war. Along with the TCI and ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light,’ 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 research commented,  “Key indicators of freight demand such as manufacturing and construction remain strong. Aside from any major negative impacts due to trade relations, which is difficult to forecast at this stage, freight demand should lead to even stronger trucking conditions in the near term. On the other hand, despite aggressive recruiting, a very tight labor market has allowed trucking companies to add only modestly to the driver force, keeping the industry at full active utilization. Therefore, two critical external factors in coming months will be trade and the labor market. Another factor will be the fuel environment as the direction of diesel and crude prices is unclear. Fuel pricing has risen a couple of times recently only to moderate slightly each time.”

The Trucking Conditions Index 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 that tracks the market conditions that influence fleet behavior. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance. In life, running a fever is an indication of a health problem. It may not tell you exactly what’s wrong, but it alerts you to look deeper. Similarly, a reading well below zero on the FTR Trucking Conditions Index warns you of a problem, while readings high above zero spell opportunity. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.

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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.
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About FTR
For more than two decades, FTR has been the thought leader in freight transportation forecasting in North America. The company’s national award-winning forecasters collect and analyze all data likely to impact freight movement, issuing consistently reliable reports for trucking, rail, and intermodal transportation as well as providing demand analysis for commercial vehicle and railcar. FTR’s forecasting and specially designed reports have resulted in advanced planning and cost-savings for companies throughout the transportation sector.