FTR Associates’ Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) for April showed a slight improvement from the previous month to a reading of -6.9.  The Shippers Conditions Index is a compilation of factors affecting shippers transport environment. Any reading below zero indicates a less-than-ideal environment for shippers. Readings below 10 signal that conditions for shippers are approaching critical levels, based on available capacity and expected rates.

Overall, truck freight is showing improved growth but with fleets managing productivity, there are no serious capacity issues yet and rates continue to move very slowly.  FTR expects a significant acceleration in rates when the market responds to Hours of Service changes in July; however this reaction may take several months to trickle down to shippers.  Details of the factors affecting the April Shippers Conditions Index are found in the June issue of FTR’s Shippers Update published June 12.

Lawrence Gross, Senior Consultant for FTR commented “We are standing at the edge of the Hours of Service revision that should initiate tightening in the truck freight sector.  However, at the same time, while the economy is continuing to slowly grow, the manufacturing segment that forms a key component driving truck freight demand, is faltering.  If this continues, it may take out a bit of this year’s anticipated second-half rate sting.”

Commentary included in the current issue of the Shippers Update gives readers a full understanding of how the current wave of federal regulations are negatively impacting trucking productivity.   For more information about how to subscribe to the Shippers Update, send an e-mail to or call 888-988-1699 ext. 1.

The Shippers Update, launched by FTR Associates during 2010 as a part of the firm’s Freight Focus Series, looks at conditions that will affect the cost and efficiency of shipping goods via all transportation modes. North American shippers will find in one reference the essential information they need on freight volumes, equipment capacity and transport costs and rates. The Shippers Update has both history and forecasts for four modal options: truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal and rail carload. The analysis includes the breakdown of total truck and rail volumes into major commodity segments. It also provides historical snapshots of inland water and air freight markets. The freight data is augmented by an abundant collection of supporting data covering macro-economics and the fuel market.

FTR Associates, located in Bloomington, IN has been a leader in transportation forecasting for over 20 years. The company’s U.S. Freight Model collects and analyzes all data likely to impact freight movement and is based on specific characteristics for over 200 commodity groups. FTR Associates’ forecast reports cover trucking and rail transportation and include demand analysis for commercial vehicle as well as railcar. Specially designed reports are offered to participants in both industries to cover specific needs. For more information about the work of FTR Associates, visit or call Helen Lile at 888-988-1699 Ext. 45.