Van rates drift lower as winter slump takes hold

It’s officially the slow season for truckload freight. January is coming to an end, and it already feels like the February slump has kicked in. Luckily, things should start to pick up again in mid-March, so it will be a short winter for truckers.

The weather is not expected to be quite as bad this week as it was last week, but that’s not saying much. The forecast calls for snow in the Mountain States, plus Kansas and parts of Missouri. Later in the week, expect big rainstorms stretching from Texas up to Tulsa, and east from there to the Carolinas and Florida. At least the driving conditions might be okay in the Upper Midwest, for once. The Southwest also looks good.

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Hot Market Maps depict the outbound load-to-truck ratios from 135 market areas and thousands of 3-digit zip code zones, by the hour, day, week, or month. Load-to-truck ratio trends are a leading indicator of changes in rate trends, so look for Hot Market Maps in DAT RateView and the DAT Power load board.

Van rates declined last week, but volumes held steady. Truckers should be able to find loads, but it may be a bit tougher to get paid as much as last month on the same lanes.

Rates rise on a handful of high-traffic lanes

Last week there were only a few lanes with rising rates, and most of those lanes didn’t pay all that well to begin with. Plus, rates declined for most of the return legs, so there was no improvement in the roundtrip.

  • Denver to Houston jumped 10¢ to $1.34 last week, but it already lost traction by Monday, and there aren’t a lot of loads. Houston to Denver lost 9¢ to $1.92.
  • Salt Lake City to Stockton, CA was up 6¢ to $1.63 per mile, and Stockton to Salt Lake held steady at $2.40.
  • Buffalo to Columbus gained 3¢ to $2.00 even, while Columbus to Buffalo dropped 4¢ to $3.15.
  • Memphis to Charlotte added 2¢ to $2.03, and Charlotte to Memphis lost 3¢ to $1.51. Not great, but not awful.
  • Seattle to Spokane added another 3¢ to reach $3.32 and Spokane to Seattle held at $2.87 per loaded mile.

Van rates slip lower everywhere else

Pretty much all the other lane rates declined in our Top 100. Here are a few of the highlights – or rather, the lowlights.

  • Phoenix to Los Angeles dropped 10¢ to $1.23 and L.A. to Phoenix fell 8¢ to $2.61.
  • Columbus to Atlanta rates plummeted 17¢ to $2.11, and the return trip from Atlanta to Columbus paid $1.44, down 2¢.
  • Dallas to Houston lost 9¢ to $2.12, and Houston to Dallas fell 3¢ to $1.97 per loaded mile.
  • Chicago to Allentown, PA plunged 16¢ to $2.52 per mile, and Allentown to Chicago paid $1.31, which hasn’t changed much recently.