According to FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index, July’s reading was slightly less negative at -5.34 compared to June’s -6.29 reading, as improved freight volume and capacity utilization offset weaker freight rates and higher fuel costs. According to the press release, carriers continue to face challenging market conditions, and surging fuel prices in August and September will send the TCI even lower in the near term.
Aside from fuel cost volatility, the outlook for trucking conditions is little changed with only gradual improvement toward neutral readings by the third quarter of 2024, FTR notes.
“The overall truck freight market remains unfavorable for trucking companies, but the financial situation for smaller carriers in particular is tightening due to surging diesel prices. Large numbers of small operations are exiting the market, and that exodus could accelerate if diesel prices continue to rise sharply,” said Avery Vise, vice president of trucking at FTR. “So far, the data suggests that larger carriers have absorbed much of that driver capacity, but truckload carriers are approaching a saturation point due to sluggish freight demand. Declining driver capacity could tighten the market modestly, but significant improvement for carriers will require stronger volume as well.”