ACT Research: Freight capacity decline likely to continue

ACT Research: Freight capacity decline likely to continue

The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index reflects the slowly progressing freight market recovery.

ACT Research says the For-Hire Trucking Volume Index increased by 1.7 points in January to 50.0, seasonally adjusted, from 48.3 in December. ACT says the service boom following the pandemic has retreated, and positively for freight, goods consumption looks to be back in vogue. The company adds that disposable income continues to outpace inflation (+4.2% in 2023), and job growth remains strong, meaning the gradually improving trend is expected to continue. 

“Freight demand continued its gradual recovery in January with just the fifth reading at or above the neutral 50 level in the past 22 months,” says Carter Vieth, research analyst at ACT Research. “The improvement may be partly temporary due to the cold snap.”

ACT-for-hire-fleet-capacity-Jan-2024

ACT Research says the For-Hire Trucking Fleet Capacity Index increased by 5.6 points month-over-month to 49.8 in January. The increase may be related to less available capacity due to cold weather in January, but capacity continued to contract.

“For-hire capacity has contracted in seven of the past nine months, and with many large fleets lowering capex budgets in 2024, plus delaying additions, capacity declines are likely to continue,” Vieth added.

ACT-for-hire-supply-demand-Jan-2024

The Supply-Demand Balance decreased in January to 50.2, from 54.2 in December, as the increase in capacity was larger than the increase in volumes.

“While lower in January, this marks the sixth consecutive month in which the Supply-Demand Balance has been positive, with decreasing capacity being the primary driver, but lesser volume declines have also contributed,” said Vieth. “Six months of green shoots suggests a more balanced market in 2024, after 17 months in a loose market balance.”

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