This page is your go-to resource for transportation insights and expert commentary on how the COVID-19 recovery is 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 Truckstop.com 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.
Truck Freight Recovery Index
Freight activity recovers much of its Labor Day week loss.
Total: Seasonally adjusted freight activity jumped about 15% in the latest week after falling 17% during the week that included Labor Day. The index is about 23% below the February peak but more than double the pre-pandemic base.
Dry Van: The Dry Van segment increased more than 14% after falling nearly 19% from the previous week. The index is about 39% below February’s weather-induced peak but about 142% above the pre-pandemic baseline.
Refrigerated: Temperature-controlled activity rose about 18% after plunging nearly 26% during the holiday week. The index is about 29% below the February spike but about 126% above the pre-pandemic base.
Flatbed: The Flatbed segment increased about 14% after declining 12% during the previous week, making it the only segment to fully recover its holiday loss. Volume is about 21% below the mid-May peak but about 83% above the pre-pandemic base.
Download the Truck Freight Recovery Index
Rail Freight Recovery Index
There were mostly little changes in this week’s sector results as carload and intermodal volumes hold steady.
N.A. Carload: Carload ticked down ever so slightly in the latest week, but maintained its footing near 95 that it has maintained for several weeks.
N.A. Intermodal: Intermodal appears to have surged in the latest week, but that is mostly a seasonal effect of comparing a full week against what is typically the Labor Day holiday week.
Economically Sensitive Freight: Economically sensitive freight’s result closely followed that of overall carload, showing a small step down within the range it has maintained for the last several months.
Automotive: Automotive took another step down as the semiconductor shortages are expected to remain a headwind to any improvement for some time to come.
Energy: Energy followed the broader pattern of a small step down in the latest week as coal plateaus on an absolute basis near its recent high.
Download the Rail Freight Recovery Index
Spot Market Insights
|This content is relevant for: Rail, Trucking, Shipping, Equipment, and Freight Focused Professionals|
Spot volume rebounds after Labor Day week, but rates decline
Load postings in the Truckstop.com system bounced back from a Labor Day-induced lull during the week ended September 17 (week 37). Total spot volume jumped 25.9% to exceed the volume recorded during the week prior to Labor Day. The principal segments – dry van, refrigerated, and flatbed – each posted gains of more than 20%, although dry van and refrigerated volume did not recover all the volume lost during the holiday week. Meanwhile, total spot rates posted their largest decline in five weeks.
Volume in the latest week was about 29% above the same 2020 week and about 153% above the five-year average (2015-2019). The holiday outlier aside, total spot load postings have held mostly steady since early July – a trend that generally outpaces seasonal expectations. The situation seems unlikely to change much soon given continued supply chain disruption. The three largest segments remain well above last year’s volume, but the specialized segment in week 37 was significantly below prior-year levels for the first time this year.
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 Truckstop.com 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.
Podcast | Trucking Market Update & Rail Market Update
|This content is relevant for: Rail, Shipping, Equipment, and Freight Focused Professionals|