Van rates moved lower last week in both major lanes and as a national average. Rates declined in 40 of the top 64 lanes, as freight volume did not rebound following the July 4th week.
This decline is normal for the season, and spot market rates are actually 5.5% higher than they were last year at this time, including fuel surcharges. Fuel prices are lower this year, which means the increase in the line haul portion of the rate is closer to 10%. That doesn't necessarily mean carriers are awash in profits this year, as their costs increased for just about everything except fuel.
The graph above depicts national average line haul rates, not including fuel surcharges. Fuel surcharges for the week ending July 14 were as follows: $0.44 for vans (total rate $1.91); $0.45 for reefers (total rate $2.19); and $0.48 for flatbeds (total rate $2.33.)
Outbound van rates rose in Dallas, Chicago and Columbus -- the increase in Dallas was primarily in the longhaul rates, with the lane from Dallas to L.A. up 10 cents for the month so far. The uptick in Chicago and Columbus was only 0.4% but indicates a positive trend for freight levels in the Midwest.
Declining rates were more common last week, as outbound vans saw rates slip on the East Coast from Philadelphia, Atlanta, Charlotte and Memphis, and on the West Coast from Los Angeles and Stockton. The biggest rate drops for the week were in parallel lanes: Atlanta to Philly slid $0.44 (16%) to $2.24 per mile and Charlotte to Philly lost $0.40 (12%) to $2.96. Those are still great rates, but the southbound trips are among the lowest-paying in the country: Philly to Atlanta at $1.16 per mile including fuel (down $0.13 last week) and Philly to Charlotte at $1.19 (up $0.04, but still weak.) If you are stuck in Philadelphia, heading south, try a triangular route via Charleston, WV.