ACT Research For-Hire Trucking Index: Rates Slip Further, Volumes Lowest in Survey’s 10-Year History

The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index, with March data, showed further contraction for both volumes and freight rates, now at 42.4 and 43.2 respective diffusion index readings. Productivity, while neutral at 50.0, likely was supported by the temporary pantry-stocking phenomenon.

The ACT For-Hire Trucking Index is a monthly survey of for-hire trucking service providers. ACT Research converts responses into diffusion indexes, where the neutral or flat level is 50. Please contact us at trucks@actresearch.net if you are a for-hire executive interested in participating. In return, participants receive a detailed monthly analysis of the survey data, including Volumes, Freight Rates, Capacity, Productivity and Purchasing Intentions, plus a complimentary copy of our Transportation Digest report.

Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s Vice President and Senior Analyst commented, “Because of the talk surrounding a surge in freight driven by pantry stocking, the Volume Index decline was somewhat surprising, but likely reflects the start of shutdowns late in March.”

Regarding the drop in freight rates, he said, “COVID-19 is adding a new level of pricing pressure due to the sharp decline in load volumes into an already overcapacitized market. Our for-hire carriers continue to show better capacity discipline than the industry at large, which we see as a good leading indicator of tighter capacity down the road.”

When asked about the overall picture, Denoyer explained, “The supply-demand balance reading accelerated to the downside in March at 44.9, after a modestly negative reading in February, at 48.8 seasonally adjusted. The cyclical bottom that was being built prior to COVID-19 has been laid low by the health crisis. Fleets are taking aggressive actions to protect their people, including: following CDC guidelines, implementing virtual meetings and orientations, limiting use of cash, and finding creative ways to procure sanitizer.”

The ACT Freight Forecast provides forecasts for the direction of truck volumes and contract rates quarterly through 2020 with three years of annual forecasts for the truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal segments of the transportation industry. For the truckload spot market, the report provides forecasts for the next twelve months. In 2019, the average accuracy of the report’s truckload spot rate forecasts was 98%. The ACT Research Freight Forecast uses equipment capacity modeling and the firm’s economics expertise to provide unprecedented visibility for the future of freight rates, helping businesses in transportation and logistics management plan for the future with confidence.

ACT Research is recognized as the leading publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasts for the North America and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies. ACT Research is a contributor to the Blue Chip Economic Indicators and a member of the Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Panel. ACT Research executives have received peer recognition, including election to the Board of Directors of the National Association for Business Economics, appointment as Consulting Economist to the National Private Truck Council, and the Lawrence R. Klein Award for Blue Chip Economic Indicators’ Most Accurate Economic Forecast over a four-year period. ACT Research senior staff members have earned accolades including Chicago Federal Reserve Automotive Outlook Symposium Best Overall Forecast, Wall Street Journal Top Economic Outlook, and USA Today Top 10 Economic Forecasters. More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

ACT’s 63rd seminar is scheduled for August 11–13, 2020, and will feature dealer, alternative power, and economic panels, as well as discussions on near-term demand of North American commercial vehicle markets and the pending impact of alternative power on the market in the near future. Both in-person and livestream options are available for those who wish to participate. Click here for seminar information.

For more information about ACT’s Freight Forecast, U.S. Rate and Volume OUTLOOK, please click here.

To learn more about other freight-related publications offered by ACT Research, click here.

ACT Research is the leader in commercial vehicle industry data, market analysis, and forecasting services for North America.