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Industry index signals freight rates are bottoming out

May 17, 2024
Measured shipment volumes and linehaul rates from Cass Information Systems suggest that, while market conditions are still down year over year, a freight upturn might be on its way.

Spot and contract freight rates might be at the bottom of their cycles, according to Cass Information Systems’ April report on its Freight Index and Truckload Linehaul Index.

Cass’s measured for-hire shipment volumes dropped month over month and year over year. Meanwhile, Cass’s Truckload Linehaul Index dropped year over year—but has remained relatively flat month over month since June 2023.

Freight Index, shipments

Cass’s Freight Index for shipments—measuring for-hire shipment volumes—dropped to 1.098, down 1.6% from February when seasonally adjusted and down 4% from last year.

The drop in Cass’s measured shipment volumes suggests that for-hire demand remains low. However, this index does not account for contract freight.

Tim Denoyer, VP and senior analyst at ACT Research and author of the Cass Freight Index report, suggested that the volume drop may be due to private fleets’ increased hiring.

“For-hire fleets likely still are seeing soft demand because of significant private fleet capacity additions in the past couple of years,” Denoyer wrote in the report. “Private fleets are now more actively competing for spot freight to fill empty backhauls, lengthening below-trend for-hire demand levels.”

Truckload Linehaul Index

Meanwhile, Cass’s Truckload Linehaul Index—measuring market fluctuations in per-mile rates minus fuel and accessorial costs for both spot and contract rates—rose to 141, up 0.1% from March but down 3.8% from last year.

The Truckload Linehaul Index barely moved in the last ten months. The Index’s month-over-month changes remained within ±0.6% since June 2023.

About the Author

Jeremy Wolfe | Editor

Editor Jeremy Wolfe joined the FleetOwner team in February 2024. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with majors in English and Philosophy. He previously served as Editor for Endeavor Business Media's Water Group publications.

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