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With plenty of freight to transport and few trucks to carry it, trucking capacity continued to be tight in September. This culminated in another month of rising truck freight rates and concerns from carriers about the lack of availability of drivers.

In September, U.S. orders for durable goods such as vehicles and appliances grew 1.9 percent. A major part of the rise was motor vehicles and components. For five consecutive months, orders for durable goods have been rising, a positive omen for trucking.

A major explanation for this is that several drivers who were laid off or furloughed during COVID shutdowns have simply not returned to trucking, and other small trucking companies and owner-operators have opted to park or sell their vehicles due to difficult times. Driver availability has been limited.

The good news was also reflected in DAT spot pricing numbers. The company’s website reported that in recent weeks, posts for spot loads have been decreasing, slowing spot rate growth, which may be lower in some areas.

We are entering the time of year when winter weather will affect spot prices, depending on where a strong storm system can hit, it can shut down transportation. In addition, DAT reports record import numbers arriving at West Coast ports, this is expected to tighten capacity and push truck freight rates upward. The “leafy vegetable” season is expected to begin in Arizona and Southern California on the refrigerated side, generating rate pressure in those markets.

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