The historically high demand for trucking services continues to fall from its record highs of 2018, and is quickly nearing neutral territory where supply and demand will be balanced, freight industry consulting firm FTR said today.
FTR's Trucking Conditions Index fell in February to a reading of 1.71, its lowest reading since August 2017, in a reflection of easing market conditions for the transportation segment, the Bloomington, Ind.-based freight transportation forecasting and consulting firm said.Economic indicators linked to freight volume are generally weaker entering the new year, but the current measure shows that the rate environment in trucking continues to soften. FTR projects the TCI measure to remain close to neutral throughout 2019 and into 2020.
The index's drop toward the neutral range comes exactly 12 months after it hit an all-time high of 15.41 in February 2018. In FTR's index, positive numbers mean strong conditions for carriers—and tough sledding for shippers—while a zero reading indicates that truck supply and demand are roughly in balance.
"We continue to see modest weakening in trucking conditions due to the near-term easing of freight rates and volumes, but we should remain generally above neutral during the coming year. However, we are close enough to neutral that negative TCI readings are now a possibility," Avery Vise, FTR's vice president of trucking, said in a release.