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Ports Report Outbound Truckload Spot Rates Decline in August

Outbound truckload spot rates from more than 20 US entry ports fell in August as seasonality kicked in and US warehouses filled to the brim with goods dampened demand.

On average, the shipper-paid dry van spot rates from those ports, which include select seaports and border entry ports, dropped $0.14 per mile from July to an average rate of $2.81 per mile.

Year over year, the all-in shipper-paid rates inland from those ports were down $0.27 per mile, according to a JOC analysis of data from Cargo Chief, DAT Freight & Analytics, Loadsmart, and a survey of shippers and logistics providers. That compares with a year-over-year $0.30 per mile drop in the average national JOC shipper-paid rate, which fell $0.11 from July to $2.72 per mile in August.

The biggest month-to-month change in August was on the Gulf Coast, where outbound spot rates from Mobile, Alabama; Houston; and New Orleans fell $0.20 on average to $2.81 per mile. At nine East Coast ports from Boston to Miami, the shipper-paid rates dropped $0.18 on average to $2.69 per mile. Outbound rates from Los Angeles and Ontario, California, dropped $0.14 to $3.09 per mile.

Only two ports didn’t see a decrease in August. Spot rates from Seattle were flat from July at $2.47 per mile. Outbound spot rates from Detroit, the largest US-Canada land border crossing, rose $0.01 to $2.91 per mile in August, most likely a sign of automotive demand and continuing healthy cross-border trade.

The ongoing decline in spot rates from US ports shows more truck capacity is entering the spot market than is generally recognized, DAT principal analyst Dean Croke told Thursday.

“Last year, when imports were surging you could almost bank on an increase in spot rates three weeks later,” Croke said. “This year, even though volumes are still high there’s too much capacity in the market. Some capacity left the spot market in April and May, but some has come back.”

The number of new carriers requesting authority is still high, with 9,000 carriers applying for operating authority in July, Croke said. “The question is, what are they seeing in the market?” Even though rates are down on average across the country, there are still opportunities for truckers to make money, he said.

Rates in “our top 50 lanes are about $0.40 higher than our national average,” Croke said.



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