Freight Capacity to Rebalance, Says ACT

April 18, 2023

North American freight capacity is starting to rebalance, according to ACT Research, which tracks trucking industry trends.

Spot rates are nearly 17% below "truckload fleet operating costs," worse than the 15% decline seen during the first quarter, says Tim Denoyer, ACT Research's vice president and senior analyst.

"The pendulum of pricing power has been firmly with shippers for some time and the cudgel of lower rates is starting to impact capacity. Though new equipment production remains elevated, hiring and fleet exit trends tell us capacity is slowing at the margin.

"With marginal fleets scrambling for miles with busted budgets, spot rates have gone far below costs. But this can only go so long."

In tight markets, freight flows from truckload carriers to less-than-truckload carriers, according to Denoyer. "In loose markets," the opposite happens.

"The trend change so far this year suggests the industry has passed peak looseness and a rebalancing  has begun. The bottom of the spot rate cycle can't be far now."