After more than two years of year-over-year increases in truckload linehaul rates, the Cass Truckload Linehaul Index® went negative in August (-2.6%). It also fell 6.9% sequentially.

We see three factors driving the decrease: 1) spot rates that are below contract rates by larger margins than appear sustainable; 2) capacity additions; and 3) a consumer and industrial economy in which growth is stalling (the Cass Freight Index shows year-over-year negative volumes for the last nine months).

The Cass Truckload Linehaul Index includes realized (paid) pricing for both contract and spot rates for Cass freight payment customers.

Intermodal freight costs inch upwards

Per-mile intermodal costs (including fuel, accessorials, etc.) moved in the opposite direction of TL linehaul rates. The Cass Intermodal Price Index® increased 1.2% YoY and 1.4% sequentially in August. This marks 35 consecutive months of YoY increases. If there’s a positive for shippers, it’s that the rate of increase is decelerating, and the three-month moving average has fallen to only 2.2%, after getting and staying above 10% throughout the latter half of 2018.

With competing truckload rates swinging downward, we predict that intermodal costs will do the same within the next few months.