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Freight Demand Slowing, Leaving Trucking Boom in the Dust

The increase in demand for truck drivers created by the pandemic is starting to finally slow, according to the Cass Freight Index. Rates for truckers are dropping dramatically, and the measure of domestic shipping demand only rose 0.6% in March, an unseasonably slow rate. Last-minute spot-loads, which make up a fraction of the market but lead the industry in contract rates, are pricing significantly lower as shipping demand comes back in line with available truck capacity.

Rising profits from the largest truckload carriers in the US, and an increase in consumer demand, saw a surge in rates for truckers during the pandemic, and it seems like that effect is wearing off. Transportation services are ending the first quarter behind where they were this time last year, and making their adjustments accordingly. Inflation affecting consumer trade is also cited as a key contributor to the falling trucking rates. Rates are not expected to return to their elevated pandemic levels in the near future.