DAT North American Freight Index Reports Unusual Strength in January Spot Market Volume

PORTLAND, Ore.—Reaching the highest-ever volume for the month of January, the DAT North American Freight Index increased 42 percent compared to January 2012. Freight volume was unusually robust for the season, exceeding December levels by 24 percent, and marks the first time since the Freight Index began when freight availability increased from December. Over the past ten years, there has been a 13 percent average decline in freight levels between those two months.

On a month-over-month basis, the unusual trend in freight availability affected the three major equipment types to differing degrees: van loads increased 16 percent, refrigerated (“reefer”) freight volume increased 14 percent, and flatbed freight availability rose 28 percent. Compared to January 2012, freight volume increased 36 percent for vans, 32 percent for reefers, and 7.9 percent for flatbeds.

The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the DAT Network of load boards in the United States and Canada.

Despite strong freight volumes, truckload capacity remained relatively loose on the spot market, so rates followed a somewhat typical seasonal pattern of a January decline that was most significant for vans and flatbeds. Van rates dropped 2.4 percent and flatbed rates slipped 2.0 percent, not including the fuel surcharge. Reefer rates remained stable in January compared to December. On a year-over-year basis, van rates declined 2.4 percent, flatbeds lost 5.7 percent, and reefer rates rose 8.6 percent.

Rates are derived from national averages in the DAT Truckload Rate Index, and exclude fuel surcharges. Spot market rates are paid by brokers and 3PLs to the carrier.