FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) improved in July to a reading of -0.7 from the previous -3.36 principally because of falling diesel prices. Although the index was just below the index’s base of zero, it was the third consecutive month of negative readings – a situation that had not occurred since March-May 2020. FTR expects that trucking market conditions are in for a long period of moderate weakness.

Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking, commented, “Trucking companies had a great run, but freight dynamics clearly have softened. While the economy and freight markets look more resilient than many observers fear, risks are weighted to the downside. Market weakness will not be uniform, but the type of freight is hardly the only differentiator. Carriers heavily engaged in the contract arena should continue to fare significantly better than the total market, and those that have managed to contain costs during this inflationary environment certainly will be in a better position to prosper.”

Details of the July TCI are found in the September 2022 issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published on August 26. The September edition also includes a discussion of why a weak housing market does not necessarily correlate with an economic recession as it usually does.

Beyond the TCI and additional commentary, the Trucking Update includes data and analysis on load volumes, the capacity environment, rates, and the economy.

The TCI tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market. These conditions are: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel prices, and financing costs. The individual metrics are combined into a single index indicating the industry’s overall health. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings in either direction suggest significant operating changes are likely.