DAT Freight Index: Record Demand Boosts Spot Truckload Rates to New Heights in June

Spot market rates exceed longer-term contract rates in atypical trend.


Demand for truckload shipments faced off against capacity shortfalls, boosting truckload rates to new heights on the spot market in June, according to DAT Solutions, which operates North America’s largest load board marketplace.

Rates for spot market transactions matched longer-term contract rates for dry van equipment, while spot refrigerated (“reefer”) and flatbed rates exceeded contract rates as a national average.  

“June capped an unprecedented 15-month run of spot market rate increases, the longest sustained period of pricing power for truckers since deregulation,” notes Mark Montague, pricing analyst at DAT. 

“While contract rates typically rise after a sustained increase in spot market rates, there is usually a lag of four to six months. This year, that lag time is reduced to a few weeks,” Montague explains.   

Contract rates increased 19 percent for vans compared to June 2017, but spot market rates rose by 29 percent during the same period. 

Spot van rates hit $2.32 per mile, and rates paid to carriers by freight intermediaries matched the longer-term contract rates paid by shippers directly to carriers. 

Spot reefer and flatbed rates both exceeded the comparable contract rates, as reefer rates rose 16 cents to $2.69 and flatbeds added 10 cents to $2.82, compared to the national averages for May. 

Compared to June 2017, spot van rates soared 52 cents per mile, reefers surged 58 cents and flatbeds shot up 65 cents. 

Freight availability on DAT load boards also set a new record, as the DAT North American Freight Index rose 9.3 percent month over month and increased 18 percent compared to June 2017.