US Truckers Continue to Signal Cautious Optimism Despite Headwinds

Despite a stubbornly slow pace to the global economy, carriers are remaining positive, despite tempered expectations, and looking toward stable growth in 2016, according to Transport Capital Partners’ latest business expectations survey.

Economic events in the 4th quarter of 2015 left expectations at their lowest levels in over 5 years, says TCP. And while expectation for 2016 remain lower than what was projected in past years, motor carriers report an generally stable business environment and hold little fear of a recession.

At the beginning of 2015, 79 percent of the participants looked forward to rate increases over the year ahead. Turning the page into 2016, that number had dwindled to 41% – the lowest percentage we have recorded since 2009. Despite this dampened optimism, expectations remain strong. Forty-one percent of those surveyed still expect their freight revenue rates to rise this year.

“In this survey, and in carrier discussions with TCP, we are seeing more variation in the opinions of individual carriers than in prior years. Any further tightening, caused by a small increase in demand or driver shortages, will have a proportionally greater upward impact on spot and contract rates,” notes Richard Mikes, TCP Partner.

Perhaps most telling of industry expectations for 2016 is that a strong majority – 61% of carriers – expect to expand their fleets this year.

“Growth expectations are not quite as robust as they were in 2014 and 2015. But, this number is still relatively consistent with the expectations – and the modest growth – of the past few years,” said Steven Dutro, TCP Partner.

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