Truckload freight availability climbed in August 2016 as the number of loads on the spot market surpassed same-month levels from the previous year for the first time since December 2014, according to the DAT North American Freight Index.
Led by a 32% jump in van loads and a 31% gain in refrigerated (reefer) freight, spot freight volume on the DAT network of load boards was 11% higher in August compared with August 2015.
Flatbed freight volume declined 16% year-over-year, however, due partly to prolonged cutbacks in key flatbed sectors including oil and gas, steel, coal, construction, and manufacturing.
Month-over-month, spot market freight volume increased 1.5% to the second-highest level in 2016. Van freight added 8.7% and reefer volume surged 24%, but flatbeds lost 16 percent in August, compared with July.
Higher van and reefer freight volumes did not translate to higher spot rates.
Compared with August 2015, the average linehaul rate fell 6.6% for vans, as reefer rates dipped 5.1%, and flatbed rates lost 7.2%. Diesel prices also contributed to the decline in rates. The average fuel surcharge, a component of the total rate paid to carriers, dropped 17% year over year, driving down the total revenue per mile by 8.0% for vans, 6.9% for reefers, and 8.2% for flatbeds. The surcharge is pegged to the retail price of diesel fuel.
On a month-over-month basis, national average rates retreated in August from an atypical July peak. The van rate edged down 0.7% (1 cent) to $1.41 per mile, reverting to the average rate for June. The reefer rate lost 1.7% (3 cents) as a national average, and the flatbed rate fell 1.2% (2 cents.) Van and reefer rates have rebounded in early September so far.
Established in 1978, DAT operates a network of load boards serving intermediaries and carriers across North America. For more than a decade, DAT has published its Freight Index, which is representative of the dynamic spot market.
Reference rates are the averages, by equipment type, based on $28 billion of actual transactions between freight brokers and carriers, as recorded in DAT RateView. Rates are cited for linehaul only, except where noted.
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