for transportation markets and the general economy.

This page is your go-to resource for transportation insights and expert commentary on how COVID-19 prevention steps are affecting the economy and transportation markets. Our Freight•cast™ forecasting model and team of experts produce weekly insights that help you navigate these challenging times.

This page is updated throughout the week. 


COVID-19 Freight Recovery Indexes

The COVID-19 Freight Recovery Indexes for Trucking and Rail measure the industry's response and recovery based on pre-pandemic levels, while accounting for historical patterns and seasonal fluctuations. Indexes are now available for trucking as a total, as well as narrowed by dry van, refrigerated, and flatbed, using spot rate metrics, and for rail showing North American carload and intermodal, economically sensitive freight, automotive, and energy sectors. Download the indexes below to view all graphs available.

June 14

Truck Freight Recovery Index

TFRI 6.14.2021

Freight activity little changed following Memorial Day holiday.

Total: Seasonally adjusted freight activity fell just 0.3% in the latest data. Volume was about 18% lower than during the week prior to Memorial Day and about 32% below the February peak. The index is nearly 79% above the pre-pandemic baseline.

Dry Van: The Dry Van segment eased nearly 2% and was about 24% lower than during the week prior to the holiday. The index is about 56% below the February peak but about 73% above the pre-pandemic baseline.

Refrigerated: Temperature-controlled activity increased about 0.7% but remains about 23% below the week prior to the holiday. The index is about 44% below the February peak but nearly 80% above the pre-pandemic base.

Flatbed: The Flatbed segment edged 0.2% higher but is down about 15% from the week prior to the holiday. The index is about 22% below the mid-May high but about 80% higher than the pre-pandemic base.

Download the Truck Freight Recovery Index

June 9

Rail Freight Recovery Index

RFRI 6.9

The timing of the Memorial Day holiday causes the latest week to appear weaker than it really is.

N.A. Carload: Carload markets took a significant step down in the latest week, but should bounce back next week when the holiday effects will not be in the numbers.

N.A. Intermodal: Intermodal should also bounce back next week after suffering a dramatic drop in the latest week because of the Memorial Day holiday occurring a week later than normal this year.

Economically Sensitive Freight: Economically sensitive freight followed a similar pattern as carload and intermodal, but should bounce back in the current week once the holiday effects are behind us.

Automotive: Automotive loadings declined, but held up better than other commodity groups in the holiday-impacted week. Next week’s result will be instructive for how the industry is working through its supply issues.

Energy: Energy took a step back in the latest week with petroleum products holding flat and coal declining slightly. With crude near $70/bl, there is the possibility of further support for this category in the weeks and months ahead.

Download the Rail Freight Recovery Index

June 14

Spot Market Insights

This content is relevant for: Rail, Trucking, Shipping, Equipment, and Freight Focused Professionals
MDI 6.14

Spot volume recovers most of its Memorial Day-related losses

Total spot load postings in the system jumped 13.7% during the week ended June 11 (week 23), but a sharp rebound was inevitable as the prior week’s volume had plunged due to the Memorial Day holiday. However, volume remains nearly 5% below week 21, which was the week prior to the holiday. Total spot rates excluding fuel surcharges declined less than 1 cent. Total truck postings rose more sharply than loads, and the ratio of loads to trucks in the system declined.

The market’s failure to recover all the volume lost due to Memorial Day could be a sign that the market finally is beginning to stabilize. Volume had declined since the week 18 record, which had been spurred by the annual International Roadcheck inspection event. However, volume held nearly flat in week 19, and the 10% decline in week 20 represented a return to pre-Roadcheck volume. Given that week 22 had included Memorial Day, we have had only a single week – week 21 – during which volume declined without a clear explanation.

International Roadcheck also has disrupted seasonal expectations for week 23. Until last year, Roadcheck had usually occurred during week 23, so the volume surge in week 18 this year traditionally had occurred in week 23 instead. Therefore, it could take a few weeks to understand how the market is moving relative to true seasonal expectations. Of course, spot market seasonality in general has been greatly disrupted by the pandemic’s unique contraction and recovery dynamic.

View our complete analysis. >

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Interactive Dashboards:

FTR has developed a series of interactive dashboards to help transportation professionals understand the real-time true impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the rates and volumes in the freight marketplace. The map below assesses the state-level impacts on the U.S. trucking industry by four equipment types – dry van, refrigerated, flatbed, and specialized – using spot market data.


FTR’s analysis examines historical seasonal behavior regarding rates in each state and normalizes the data to represent how the trucking environment would look in a typical growth economy. By comparing that norm to the current rate environment, we can understand how COVID-19 is affecting rates on a state-by-state basis.

To help you better understand how the map works, visit our Knowledge Base FAQ.


Updated Weekly

Podcast | Trucking Market Update & Rail Market Update

This content is relevant for: Rail, Shipping, Equipment, and Freight Focused Professionals

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