FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) surged to a 10.37 reading in January, reflecting stronger freight rates and volumes that more than offset higher fuel costs.
The index was up from 8.51 in December and are likely to remain solidly in positive territory for the rest of the year, FTR projects, with freight market dynamics solidly in carriers’ favor. FTR is calling for stronger freight demand through 2021 with positive trucking conditions all year.
“Market conditions are close to the best ever for trucking companies, and they should remain that way at least through this year,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice-president, trucking.
“With stimulus from Washington, extraordinarily lean inventories, and a fading pandemic, solid freight demand is practically baked in. The bigger risk to good times is that driver capacity comes back too strongly as labor participation rebounds, but with the pipeline of new drivers constricted for the past year, that risk seems low. Trucking’s weak payroll jobs numbers for January and February even as freight volume is strong suggests that the principal issue is the supply of drivers, not demand for them.”