The trucking industry saw mixed conditions during the fall, and with winter on the way, shipments are expected to slow. Our main takeaway, based on economic news and indicators, points towards softening conditions for both carriers and shippers for the remainder of 2019. Here are the top metrics and headlines we are currently watching:
ATA Tonnage Index: 117.6 (September 2019)
After falling 4% in August, truck tonnage remained steady in September with a 0.2% increase. Overall, tonnage in the third quarter was up 4.5% from a year earlier.
Diesel Fuel Price: $3.073/gallon (week of 11/11/19)
The U.S. average retail price of diesel rose 1.1 cents the week of Nov. 11. However, diesel prices are down 24.4 cents from the same time a year ago.
FTR Trucking Conditions: -1.11 (August 2019)
Trucking conditions fell in August due to weak utilization and higher financing costs. Slowing manufacturing activity contributed to a decrease in conditions.
FTR Shippers Conditions: 6.4 (August 2019)
Shippers conditions increased in August after falling in July. Shippers conditions are predicted to soften in the upcoming months due to firmer freight rates.
Trucking Industry News
Trucking Employment Increases After A Quarter of Declines
According to the Department of Labor’s monthly employment report, the for-hire trucking industry added 1,300 payroll jobs in October. The increase in trucking jobs followed three straight months of declines in the trucking industry.
Carrier Closures Up in 2019, But Do Not Indicate Trend
640 carriers have closed as of September 2019, more than double the number of carriers who closed in the 2018 season. However, experts say the closures do not indicate a long-term trend, as 2018 had a lower-than-usual close rate due to tight shipping capacity.
Operational Trucking Costs Up
A study conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) found that the costs associated with trucking are increasing. Costs associated with fuel and driver compensation accounted for carriers’ biggest expenses. Industry experts say a softening economy will continue to keep trucking operational costs high.