Carrier expectations for 2019 - freight volumes, rates, diesel, and trade.

In early October 2018 CarrierLists conducted an email survey from its 25,000 carrier partners to learn more about their expectations for 2019.

215 carriers responded to the survey. The carrier fleet sizes of the respondents range from 3 trucks to 122 trucks.

The key word for our results is OPTIMISM.

Carriers are full of optimism going into 2019. Almost 85% expect freight volumes to be the same or even better in 2019.

As would be expected this optimism carried over to rates, where 64% of carriers expect line-haul rates to show year-over-year improvements above and beyond the steep increases we experienced in 2018.

As for diesel prices, 75% believe we'll see a rise in diesel prices in 2019. With only a meager 5% expecting diesel prices to fall.

As one of our Texas carriers told us, "The Oil Boom here in Texas and the price of a barrel of oil increasing is the resulting factor for the increase."

On the flip side, one of the few carriers expecting a decrease in diesel noted, "We believe mainly due to greater quantities of electric vehicles coming on to USA roads every month, the price of diesel and gas will continue to diminish."

Tariffs and trade policies are in the news on a daily basis, so we wanted to gauge how carriers expect trade negotiations to affect freight volumes and rates in 2019.

For the most part it's more of wait and see approach. One-third of carriers don't expect it to affect volumes or rates at all. Those that do expect it to hit trucking are split right down the middle between improving and weakening the freight market.

One of our more pragmatic carriers summed it up nicely, "It totally depends what the respective governments agree upon. For as long as we don't know what exactly is being negotiated, this remains an open question."

While carriers are upbeat and ready to charge into 2019, it's worth noting the headwinds we experienced in 2018. A strong economy, the ELD mandate, and a shortage of drivers all played a strong role in driving up rates in 2018.

What are the odds we see these headwinds continue to push the market along next year?

Or will a new narrative set the stage for changes in 2019?

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