“Spring appears to have (been) sprung,” notes DAT’s Ken Harper with this week’s spot market update. “Loads up, rates up, hyacinths too” in comparison to the previous week’s numbers, available in part via the report at this link:
In the last week (ending March 5), the number of available loads jumped 12 percent overall on DAT Load Boards. With capacity down almost 2 percent for the week, the national load-to-truck ratio rose to 3.5 loads per truck and national average van, reefer and flatbed freight rates all gained compared to the previous week.
The national average rate for van rates got a 2-cent bump last week to $1.56 per mile with the increased load posts and decline in trucks. The van load-to-truck ratio rose from 1.4 to 1.6. At once, there are some geographic shifts happening and rates are adjusting in both directions. Hot spots in the U.S. economy boosted small markets like Decatur, Ala.; Texarkana, Texas; and Rapid City, S.D.
Reefer load posts picked up 10 percent compared to the previous week — volume was up in big metro areas like Los Angeles and Dallas. The number of reefer truck posts fell 2 percent nationwide, bumping the refrigerated load-to-truck ratio up 12% from 2.8 to 3.1. As temps warm, reefer rates seem to be on the rebound. The national average reefer rate increased 1 cent to $1.80 per mile, and prices are firming up across the Midwest. Reefer loads out of Green Bay paid an average of 6 cents more per mile ($2.51) compared the previous week, and average outbound rates from Chicago paid $2.07, up 4 cents. The load-to-truck ratio for vans in Chicago is still way below the national ratio, but lane rates rose 5 cents from Chicago to Dallas and 3 cents from Chicago to Los Angeles.
The lane from the Windy City to Atlanta didn’t perform as well for reefers last week — vans, either, though there’s plenty of freight from Chicago to Atlanta. On rates, however, the return trip is much worse ($1.13/mile on average) than the outbound. Adding a higher-paying short run from Atlanta to Decatur, Ala., where a shortage of trucks is giving rates a boost, will put you on the road for an extra day, but $363 in added revenue may be worth the time spent, based on rate averages along those lanes.
Rates for individual lanes are available in DAT TruckersEdge Enhanced, as well as other DAT load boards. Rates shown are averages based on actual rate agreements between freight brokers and carriers.