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September reflects robust market conditions for carriers, FTR reports

Nov. 18, 2020
While positive trucking conditions are still predicted through 2022, continued strong economic recovery is not secured given the latest surge in COVID-19 infections and current political environment, according to FTR's Vise.

FTR Intel’s Trucking Conditions Index rose again in September to a positive reading of 10.69, up 2+ points from August. September’s TCI – the third highest reading since January 2010 – reflects strong freight rates mostly due to the intense stress in the consumer goods supply chain.

“We envision trucking conditions remaining strong for a while – probably well into 2022 – although we could see some near-term softness once we normalize retail inventories. An industrial recovery should support broad-based growth in freight volume,” said Avery Vise, vice president of trucking at FTR.

The TCI tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing. The individual metrics are combined into a single index indicating the industry’s overall health. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings in either direction suggest significant operating changes are likely.  

“Robust spot rates already are starting to push up rates in the much larger contract arena, and constraints on the driver supply stemming from the pandemic likely will maintain that pressure,” Vise continued. “However, continued strong economic recovery is not secured given the latest surge in COVID-19 infections and a political environment that likely makes further relief and stimulus more difficult. The road ahead is still not crystal clear.”        

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