Rate Trend of the Week – Spring has Sprung

It’s not officially summer yet, but you wouldn’t know it to look at truckload rates. The past week saw a big upturn in spot market rates — paid by freight brokers to the carriers. Reefer carriers were the biggest beneficiaries, with a 7.9% increase in May line haul rates, compared to April. Rates continued to climb in the first few days of June, adding another $0.12 per mile.

For vans and flatbeds, the increase in the base rate for line haul in May was offset by a decline in the fuel surcharge, so the total rate only increased by a penny for vans and didn’t change at all for flatbeds, compared to April. Vans added another $0.04 ($0.03 to the total rate that includes fuel) since May 31, and flatbed rates rose $0.02 (only $0.01 with fuel.)

These are national average rates, and there are lots of markets where high demand or scarce capacity will drive rates way up for all equipment types. As the car ads say, “your mileage may vary.”


Traffic shifted around in the week following Memorial Day, and rates slipped in the Midwest. In our sample of the top 64 spot market lanes, 39 rates rose, 22 declined and 3 were neutral last week. Big winners were Atlanta (up 3.7%,) Memphis (up 3.4%) and Dallas (up 3.1%.) Declining markets included Charlotte (down 4.9%) and Denver (down 1.7%.)


In the week since Memorial Day, reefer rates rose 4.6% in the top 64 lanes. Fort Worth (up 9.9%) and Fresno (up 8.6%) saw the biggest gains for the week, and rates are trending up in Green Bay and Atlanta. South and Central Florida rates were stable but volume there is declining, an indication that the produce season may be waning.


Flatbed pricing rose 0.6% for the week, following a 2.1% increase in May. Atlanta (up 7.6%) is trending up for flatbeds, as is Houston (up 4.2%) but Memphis remains the highest-paying market, with rates mostly unchanged from the previous week. The most improved award for May goes to Tampa, where rates were up 17% in the past month. Declining markets include Los Angeles (down 5.5%) and Rock Island, IL, on the border with Iowa (down 4.3%.)