FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) for July, as reported in the September Shippers Update, although still in negative territory at -8.07 was the best reading for the index since Q4 2020.

The July SCI improved significantly from the June reading of -12.0 with shipper market conditions less negative. However, the only technically positive index factor in the month was an insignificant softening of freight volume. The real improvement came from less negative readings for freight rate and capacity utilization components of the index. The current forecast for the SCI is for it to improve into low negative territory heading into 2022.

Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR, commented “The Shippers Conditions Index improved slightly in July, but that improvement came off a low base. Conditions are still tough for shippers and will likely remain difficult for some time to come. Strong capacity utilization will support higher rates even as service suffers over the next several months.”

The September issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published September 7th provides a detailed analysis of the factors affecting the June Shippers Conditions Index and provides the forecast for this index through July of 2022. Included in this month’s report is detailed discussion regarding the U.S. labor market and how changes could affect the driver situation as well as consumer spending.

The Shippers Conditions Index tracks the changes representing four major conditions in the U.S. full-load freight market. These conditions are: freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity, and fuel price. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence the shippers’ freight transport environment. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. A negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance.