A newly released Index, ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index, showed decreases in the Volume and Pricing Indices, as the Capacity Index grew.
“The Volume Index fell 1.7 points in February, in line with our revised GDP forecasts for 2022, as inflation weighs on consumers’ wallets," said Carter Vieth, Research Associate at ACT Research, in a statement. " The freight volume outlook remains positive, but COVID variants and the inflationary effects of war cast some uncertainty.”
The Capacity Index rose from January to February, ticking to 52.4. Vieth noted that the improvement was due to drivers returning after absenteeism due to Omicron. Additionally, truck manufacturers are building at slightly above-replacement rates in February.
Vieth added, “With equipment production still challenged, the improvement in recent months is likely largely about drivers, and the sustainability of the gains will be important to the 2022 rate trajectory. Equipment may soon surpass drivers as the top constraint on trucking capacity, particularly if Ukrainian neon-related production issues further strain the Class 8 tractor fleet.”
Regarding driver availability, the pandemic continues to pressure driver availability. However, he sees the rate of labor force participation gradually increasing. One reason for the increase is due to higher pay.
The ACT Freight Forecast provides forecasts for spot truckload rates by trailer type for four to six quarters and truck volumes and contract rates for three years for the truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal segments of the transportation industry.
In 2019, the average accuracy of the report’s truckload spot rate forecasts was 98%.