DAT North American Freight Index Tracks Seasonal Strength

  • Spot truckload freight volume dips 5.3% in September on delayed seasonal decline
  • September up 22% on a year-over-year basis; highest level yet recorded for the month

PORTLAND, Ore. (Oct. 10, 2013)—After a summer of strong, steady activity, spot market truckload freight volume showed a seasonal decline, dipping 5.3% in September compared to August, according to the DAT North American Freight Index.

Year-over-year, however, the Index was up 22% and reached the highest level recorded for the month of September since the Index was established in 1996.

Typically, third-quarter freight volume begins to drop in July, followed by mixed trends in August and September. This year, Q3 volume was up 13% compared to the same period in 2012. Severe weather earlier in the year postponed agricultural and construction seasons and related freight movements, producing elevated volumes throughout Q3.

Month-over-month, load availability declined 1.6% for vans and 4.6% for flatbeds in September but increased 1.1% for refrigerated (“reefer”) freight. Van rates rose 0.7% and reefer rates gained 1.9% while flatbed rates declined 8.1% compared to August.

Year-over-year, van freight volume rose 12%, flatbed loads increased 43%, and freight designated for reefers added 30%. Van rates increased 3.8%, reefer rates rose 4.5%, and flatbed rates declined 8.1% compared to September 2012.

Year-to-date volume is 1.8% higher in 2013.

Reference rates are derived from DAT RateView. Rates are cited for line haul only, excluding fuel surcharges, which rose in September on a month-over-month basis but declined compared to September 2012. The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the TransCore DAT network of load boards in the United States and Canada.

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