Contracted truckload volumes have recovered, tender rejections are still elevated, and while some rates came in after the holiday, others didn’t.

 

Freight brokers we spoke to were surprised that trucking markets did not meaningfully cool off after July Fourth and are increasingly convinced that freight patterns this year will continue diverging from historical seasonal patterns.

 

In our view, substantial capacity destruction in 2019 and 2020 has made markets more sensitive, and the unpredictability of freight demand in the pandemic has made capacity allocation less efficient, effectively removing capacity from the market and raising spot rates.

 

That means that while 3PLs may see high volumes and high costs, asset-based carriers are still working with contract rates that are on some lanes below the market and are still struggling to service freight on imbalanced networks. Potential catalysts for a further melt-up later in the year include the expiration of moratoriums on insurance cancellation due to nonpayment and the expiration of PPP employee retention requirements, both of which could remove more capacity from trucking.

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