ACT Research For-Hire Trucking Index: Trucking Stronger in September

The latest release of ACT Research’s For-Hire Trucking Index, which includes September data, showed an increase in volumes, pricing and capacity, with a lower but still strong supply-demand balance.

“Although it increased in September, the volume index is still considerably below the 65.5 average of the past 12 months, due in large part to supply bottlenecks,” Tim Denoyer, vice president and senior analyst at ACT Research, said. “In particular, chip and part shortages are hindering vehicle production, though peak holiday shipping is continuing to provide demand support.

“Trucking markets remain very tight, with the newly proposed vaccine mandate likely disrupting the recovery in driver hiring in the near-term and new equipment production still challenged, so the recipe is still right for record rate increases. However, the driver response to higher pay rates is ongoing, and we ultimately expect little impact of employer vaccine mandates in trucking, where about 80% of capacity is in fleets under 100 employees. Equipment supply chain constraints also continue to limit capacity growth, and hiring and retention of new drivers will be key to the rate trajectory.”

Regarding the supply-demand balance, Denoyer said, “While down from this year’s peak of 69.2 in April, the current reading still reflects a tight supply-demand environment. Class 8 retail sales are constrained by tight inventories and unmet production demand due to parts shortages, slowing the recovery in equipment capacity. With some structural driver issues likely to outlast the pandemic and a generally positive freight outlook, we do not expect the market to loosen quickly.”

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