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.

April 12

Truck Freight Recovery Index

TFRI 4.12

Freight index is largely stable since settling from the February spike.

Total: Seasonally adjusted freight activity rose 5.3% after falling by just slightly more. Volume is holding at close to the level prior to the weather-related spike in February. The index is about 21% off the current high but more than double the pre-pandemic level.

Dry Van: The Dry Van segment increased by nearly 5% from the prior week’s level and is slightly stronger than it was before the February surge. The index is about 40% below that peak but is about 136% above the pre-pandemic base.

Refrigerated: Temperature-controlled activity fell about 5% from the prior week. Volume remains about 29% below the current high, but refrigerated has stabilized at a higher level than dry van has. Refrigerated is about 125% above the pre-pandemic level.

Flatbed: The Flatbed segment rose more than 7% from the prior week but is still off about 6% from its post-pandemic high in late February. Despite some volatility, flatbed has held close to a post-pandemic high all year.

Download the Truck Freight Recovery Index

Apr 7

Rail Freight Recovery Index

RFRI 4.7.21

Carload and intermodal index values took a pause in the latest week as the Easter holiday lowered volumes.

N.A. Carload: Carload volumes stepped down in the latest week, but should recover quickly next week as the decline is related to shutdowns around the Easter holiday.

N.A. Intermodal: Intermodal did not take as large a step down as carload, but still moved down a little bit in the latest holiday week. Intermodal should recover its holiday decline next week.

Economically Sensitive Freight: Economically sensitive freight took a more significant decline in the latest week than either intermodal or the overall carload market, but is expected to make a recovery next week.

Automotive: Automotive took a significant decline as the ongoing parts supply issues create a window to take early downtime at some plants.

Energy: Energy volumes declined significantly, but even with the drop, are running above where they were at any point prior to March. It bears watching the direction of this sector in the coming weeks and months.

Download the Rail Freight Recovery Index

April 12

Spot Market Insights

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

Loads Available 4.12

Spot rates hit record levels as volume moves higher

Total spot rates posted in the system were the highest ever during the week ended April 9 (week 14). Excluding fuel surcharges, the average total spot rate was $2.464 per mile, edging out the $2.455 recorded at the end of June 2018. Load postings rose 4.9% week over week. The prior week’s decline in flatbed postings looks to have been a holiday-related pause as the segment posted its sixth volume record in seven weeks. Total truck postings rose sharply for the second straight week.

Week 14’s spot market bears no resemblance to the market exactly a year ago, which was only a week away from bottoming out due to pandemic-related lockdowns. Total load volume in the latest week is close to a record level while volume during in the same 2020 week had been the lowest since Thanksgiving week 2016. Compared to year-earlier levels, total volume in week 14 was up 472%

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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