<img alt="" src="https://secure.365insightcreative.com/791016.png" style="display:none;">

C-Suite Synopsis: Freight Transportation for November 2021

Posted by The FTR Experts on 11/30/21 2:45 PM


TRUCKING: Strengthening freight rates support a high floor on market conditions for carriers.

RAILCAR: The 2021 carload outlook took another step down in the latest month and now sits at just over 5% compared with 2020. 

INTERMODAL: International and domestic traffic each weakened in September as volumes are metered by providers. 

SHIPPERS: Market conditions are stalled at a level unfavorable to shippers. 


The economy sent mixed signals in September as consumer spending remained strong, but the industrial sector was weaker. However, the lingering effects of Hurricane Ida played a major role in weaker industrial production. The other big hit was the ongoing semiconductor shortage, which once again led to a big drop in automotive output.

• Payroll employment in October rose by a solid 531,000 jobs, and September figures were revised upward substantially. Employment remains 4.2 million jobs, or 2.8%, below February 2020, seasonally adjusted. The unemployment rate fell, but labor participation was unchanged.
• Consumer spending was up 0.6% in September. Gains in services and goods were balanced for a change. Spending on non-durable goods moved higher while durable goods spending eased slightly.
• Freight volumes remain constrained by supply chain disruptions, and those constraints are keeping freight rates high in all modes.

Tags: trucking, intermodal, Rail, C-suite, State of Freight TODAY

Trucking Sector

• Trucking conditions remain stalled at levels highly favorable for carriers. Freight rates continue to strengthen even as volume and utilization continue to stabilize very gradually. The Trucking Conditions Index in September moved higher – albeit only marginally – for the first time since April’s record.

• For-hire trucking added 7,900 payroll jobs, seasonally adjusted, in October, and estimates for August and September were revised higher. Employment is just 9,300, or 0.6%, below February 2020.

• The forecast for active utilization is slightly stronger than previously forecast through the first half of 2022 due to continued productivity challenges.

Rail/Intermodal Sector

• New port fees for containers that dwell at port terminals longer than three days for rail-hauled freight and nine days for truck-hailed freight could encourage shippers to move more freight by truck. However, it also could encourage rail movements to non-traditional intermodal destinations as a way to move boxes away from the port terminal quickly.

• Service metrics – particularly velocity – remain in line with seasonal patterns and have not meaningfully moved above those levels despite some recent gains in absolute level. Heading into winter, it is unlikely that those metrics will meaningfully inflect positively for the next few months.
• Carload volumes have held steady in recent weeks despite a bump from the start of the harvest season. Economically sensitive freight, which excludes coal, petroleum, and agriculture, has held at flat levels over the last several weeks. This suggests that commodities like metals and lumber are not growing despite strong demand.



SOF Podcasts image



Submit a comment

All comments are reviewed for approval and will not show up automatically. 

Sign up to receive our State of Freight TODAY posts. Select notification preference below.



View recent posts:



Search commentaries:



      Submit a question:

      You ask. FTR Experts answer.