ACT Research released the latest installment of the ACT Freight Forecast, U.S. Rate and Volume Outlook report. Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s vice president and senior analyst, said, “Freight markets remain tight as we head into a clearly historic peak season with unprecedented containership backlogs, currently about 125 at anchor at North American ports. The chip shortage may have some light at the end of the tunnel, but it continues to slow equipment capacity growth. And the Delta variant, which worsened the chip shortage, could also impact the nascent and gradual recovery in driver supply.
“The ACT Driver Availability Index continued to improve this month,” he continued, “and BLS trucking employment trends continued to improve despite slowing of national job growth. The effects from the pandemic, driver demographics, e-commerce driving jobs and the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse are lengthening the rate cycle, but we expect economic incentives to eventually outweigh the secular driver supply constraints.”
When asked about the intermodal situation, Denoyer commented: “Network congestion has interrupted freight movement despite strong demand. Due in large part to the 200-plus percent tariffs on Chinese chassis and subassemblies since late last year [made official in May], chassis production is 35% below where it should be at this point in the cycle. Amid perhaps the strongest freight demand of all time, the U.S. chassis fleet is shrinking because of these tariffs, which make the situation tough to remedy quickly. We expect intermodal volumes to be impacted through this peak season and beyond.”