FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index fell in February to a reading of 1.71. This is the lowest reading for the index since August 2017 and reflects the easing market conditions for this transportation segment. Economic indicators linked to freight volume are generally weaker entering the new year and the rate environment in trucking continues to soften. FTR projects the TCI measure to remain close to neutral throughout 2019 and into 2020.
Details of the February TCI are found in the April issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published April 1. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ section in the current issue analyzes a driver shortage commentary recently published on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. 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.
Avery Vise, vice president of trucking, commented, “We continue to see modest weakening in trucking conditions due to the near-term easing of freight rates and volumes, but we should remain generally above neutral during the coming year. However, we are close enough to neutral that negative TCI readings are now a possibility.”
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.