While the van markets might be showing signs of heating up, flatbed has been hot all winter long, and getting hotter. The national average flatbed rate for April was $2.65/mile, the highest it's ever been in DAT Trendlines.
And there are no signs of a slowdown. Last week, flatbed volumes surged 10% higher, led by Houston, Fort Worth and Cleveland. The national load-to-truck ratio for flatbed has now been above 100 loads per truck for 5 straight weeks.
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that there are literally more than 100 loads for every flatbed trailer. Brokers repost loads when they have trouble finding trucks, and flatbedders are often less likely than dry van and reefer truckers to post their equipment to the load board. For those reasons, flatbed load-to-truck ratios are often elevated. But we can still use the ratio as a way to measure pressure in the market – and when the ratio goes up or down, rates almost always follow.
DAT load boards provides the largest and most trusted digital freight marketplace in the trucking industry, with more than 179 million loads and trucks posted annually, plus insights into current spot market and contract rates based on $45 billion in real transactions.
As you can see, there's a whole lot of dark green in the map above, meaning there's a shortage in flatbed equipment across basically the whole country. That's kept rates high, even though pricing was a little more mixed at the end of April.
All rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between brokers and carriers.
- Atlanta continues to set new records: Outbound rates there have climbed 10% in the past month
- The oil industry has also fueled the Texas markets: Rates were higher last week out of Dallas and Fort Worth, while Houston held firm
- Gains out of Las Vegas and Jacksonville, FL, suggest that construction equipment and material are on the move
A couple strong lanes last week:
- Raleigh to Greenville, SC, jumped up to $2.94/mile
- Roanoke to Baltimore soared to $3.58/mile
The average outbound rate last week in Phoenix was just $1.79/mile, making it the only major flatbed market with sub-$2 rates. Even Tampa has crossed that mark.
A couple lanes with falling prices:
- Reno to Seattle was down 98¢ to $2.41/mile, a sign that lumber shipments out of the Seattle area are balancing things out
- Roanoke to Cleveland dropped to $2.55/mile – this lane had been up for about four weeks while Cleveland suffered through some nasty weather, but now the weather is better and volumes dropped, so the rates fell