FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) was unchanged for May at a reading of 11.4, reflecting continued full capacity utilization. Trucking conditions are only expected to improve as freight season enters its peak with the TCI reading growing further through the calendar year and likely into 2019. Excluding fuel surcharges, total truckload rates are forecast to be up an estimated 13% for all of 2018. As more capacity is slated to come on line, 2019 trucking conditions may moderate somewhat but they will still outpace recent years.
Avery Vise, Vice President of Trucking Research, comments, “Key indicators of freight demand such as manufacturing and construction remain strong. Aside from any major negative impacts due to trade relations, which is difficult to forecast at this stage, freight demand should lead to even stronger trucking conditions in the near term. On the other hand, despite aggressive recruiting, a very tight labor market has allowed trucking companies to add only modestly to the driver force, keeping the industry at full active utilization. Therefore, two critical external factors in coming months will be trade and the labor market. Another factor will be the fuel environment as the direction of diesel and crude prices is unclear. Fuel pricing has risen a couple of times recently only to moderate slightly each time.”