Freight Trucking Rates in December 2023
As of December 2023, ACT's For-Hire Trucking Index: Freight Rates fell 5.1 points in December to 42.1, but the decline appears to be more of a blip than a change in trend. Spot rates have improved in January as ocean disruptions push cargo to the US West Coast, and cold weather has taken cargo off the railroads and into the spot market.
Dry van spot rates are $1.66 per mile; DAT reefer spot rates are $1.92 per mile; and flatbed spot rates are $1.85 per mile.
Dry Van Freight Rates in December 2023
Dry van spot rates were up 8¢ m/m in December. DAT dry van contract rates are $2.06 per mile, increasing 3¢ m/m in December, though November was revised down 2¢ since last month.
Downward pressure on contract rates is lessening following the long period of stabilization in spot rates, but hasn’t entirely dissipated. We’ve heard several instances of contract rate increases recently, but using spot rates as a guide, these will be the exception, not the rule, for a couple more quarters.
Refrigerated Freight Rates in December 2023
Reefer spot rates fell 2¢ m/m in December. Reefer contract rates are $2.39, flat m/m.
Similar to dry van rates, industry capacity additions will likely keep reefer rates under pressure into early 2024, but we expect Class 8 tractor build rates to decline in 2024.
Flatbed Freight Rates in December 2023
Flatbed spot rates rose 1¢ m/m, down 11% y/y. Flatbed contract rates are $2.49 per mile, down 3¢ m/m.
While we remain relatively optimistic about a US industrial recovery supporting higher flatbed rates, this is likely to develop over the course of 2024 as monetary tightening effects play out.
To see how freight trucking rates change in the future, and for detailed analysis and forecasts, see ACT's freight & transportation forecast.