Freight and Rates Surge on the Spot TL Market: June DAT Freight Index

  • Freight availability in June is up 50% year-over-year

  • Volume is up 39% for vans, 51% for refrigerated freight, and 69% for flatbed freight 

  • Average spot rates are up 15% for vans, 10% for reefers, and 14% for flatbeds

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 15, 2014)—Freight availability on the spot market was 50% higher in June compared to the same month the previous year, continuing a pattern of elevated activity in 2014, according to the DAT North American Freight Index, a measure of truckload freight demand and capacity in the United States and Canada.

The year-over-year increase was reflected in all three major equipment types: van loads grew 39%, refrigerated ("reefer") freight was up 51%, and flatbed volume rose 69%. 

Demand was driven by robust seasonal fruit and vegetable harvests combined with a surge of manufacturing and construction-related freight.

Greater demand and constrained capacity contributed to an increase in truckload rates in June. Compared to June 2013, the national average rate was up 15% for vans, 10% for reefers, and 14% for flatbeds.

Volumes, rates increase month-over-month

Compared to May 2014, spot freight volume increased 9.8%. Van and reefer freight each were up 20%, while flatbed freight volume gained 3.7%. Spot truckload rate increases were more modest: the average van rate rose 7.4%, reefers increased 6.0%, and flatbeds saw a 4.4% increase compared to the previous month.

Several factors appear to have contributed to record-high volume and rates on the spot truckload market this year, including disruptive weather, an improved economy, and seasonal fluctuations of freight and capacity. As a result, shippers have increasingly relied on third-party logistics (3PL) providers to meet the needs caused by the growing volume of exception freight.

Second quarter volume increased overall by 4.9% compared to Q1, reflecting a typical seasonal pattern.

Reference rates are derived from DAT RateView. Rates are cited for line haul only, excluding fuel surcharges, which declined on a month-over-month basis but increased compared to June 2013. The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the DAT Network of load boards in the United States and Canada. Additional trends and analysis are available at DAT Trendlines.