High fuel and equipment prices, labor concerns, shipping rates, inflation, talks of a recession, and other economic factors have followed trucking into what is a historically quiet season for imports and consumer demand at the start of a new year. Because of these lingering headwinds, for the first quarter, carriers are likely concerned about a decrease in rates due to an oversupply of capacity built up from 2021.
The market, however, is cyclical, and trucking remains the most relied-upon freight transport mode in the U.S., with trucks moving some 12.5 billion tons of freight valued at more than $13.1 trillion, according to the newly released Bureau of Transportation Statistics 2022 Transportation Statistics Annual Report.
“I think this year we will see a lot more normality in the market or a lot more seasonality,” explained Dean Croke, principal analyst at DAT Freight & Analytics. “From the time of the pandemic through the end of , we saw little seasonality in the market. There were hints of seasonality, so you saw a little bit of a bump in rates because of the building season in the spring, but the whole peak season never materialized.”