ECONOMIC WATCH: Trucking conditions expected to turn negative until 2021

by Today’s Trucking

April 17, 2020

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Trucking conditions were positive in February, but that’s likely the last time FTR will be able to say that until 2021.

Sharp declines in freight volumes, utilization and rates will weigh on trucking conditions for the rest of the year, with the worst overall trucking conditions on record anticipated in the second quarter, industry forecaster FTR reported. It predicted its Trucking Conditions Index will bottom in April and May.

The February reading was a positive 0.96, down slightly from January. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, trucking conditions had been positive for three straight months for the first time in a year.

“Although trucking conditions might prove to be comparable to the worst of the Great Recession, the trucking industry – like the rest of the economy – has never seen such an abrupt deterioration,” said Avery Vise, vice-president of trucking for FTR. “The need to restock grocery shelves provided a brief boost for some segments, but the economic shutdown now has taken a toll on the whole industry. While an economic restart likely will begin in May, the damage wrought during this period will weaken trucking conditions for months to come.”

Avery Vise, FTR