This is panning out to be a “good strong year” for trucking, according to Avery Vise, vice-president of trucking for FTR, who spoke during this month’s State of Freight webinar on Feb. 14.
“Overall, our outlook for 2019, is mild growth through the year,” Vise said. “Year over year growth won’t be as strong as 2017 and 2018…but it will still be a good, strong year. Just not a crazy one, like we’ve seen for the past 18 months.”
Vise added that the shippers condition index is in positive territory in more than two years.
“December was a month in which everyone was happy – shippers and carriers,” he said.
FTR predicted trucking conditions to moderate this year.
“The big story of 2018 was the imbalance in the spot market,” Vise explained. “And the spot market is still tighter than the five-year average. And it is far now than last year. Spot rates are now closer to average.”
But the spot market is just one side of the story, Vise said, turning his attention to rates. He said that the degree in which carriers can get drivers will be the “biggest question mark” in how the year will play out in terms of rates.
“The issue on everyone’s mind now is rates,” he said. “Overall our forecast is that rates will be close to flat, year-over-year in 2019. Spot rates will likely be down sharply, as much as 7%, and contract rates….we’re looking at them being up 1-2%…that’s how we see the picture right now.”
Overall, Vise said the economy is doing well, considering manufacturing and consumer spending is still strong. The economy’s biggest weakness is housing, as sales are down year-over-year, and housing prices remain soft.