February has been a strong month for flatbed freight. That’s not something you hear all that often, but the national average flatbed rate has increased each week this month, while rates trended in the opposite direction for vans and reefers.
Overall, flatbed volumes are 20% higher than they were a year ago, while rates are 22% higher compared to the same period in 2017. Mild weather in many areas of the country contributed to growth in flatbed traffic last week, with load counts jumping up another 6% compared to the previous week. That’s led to tight capacity for many flatbed markets, as seen in the load-to-truck ratios in the map below.
All rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between brokers and carriers.
Several major flatbed markets posted big gains last week. Roanoke, VA, saw the biggest increases, but prices also rose out of Dallas, Fort Worth, Baltimore and Birmingham.
- Houston is the number one flatbed market by volume, and the average outbound rate there rose 10¢ to $2.67/mile
- Flatbed rates also increased out of Los Angeles, but California rates have otherwise been trending down lately
- The average rate out of Tampa hit $2.09/mile, which is high for Florida
Prices in Rock Island, IL, continued to dip last week after spiking earlier in the month. The average rate is still $3.27/mile, which is high for any time of year, let alone February. Phoenix is still the lowest-paying of the major flatbed markets, but volumes improved there last week.
The average rate on the lane from Cleveland to Roanoke dropped 24¢, but it’s still a powerhouse at $3.61/mile. The Roanoke to Cleveland direction rose 46¢, which more than offset for the declines in the southbound direction.