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FAQ - FTR COVID-19 Impact Heatmap

The map assesses state-level impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. trucking industry. Questions are answered below.

View the map at www.FTRintel.com/Coronavirus.

What is the methodology being used to generate the Truck Spot Rate Dashboard?

FTR's analysis examines historical seasonal behavior and normalizes the data to represent how the trucking environment would look in a typical growth economy. The color variations shown on the map indicate how the latest seven days compare to that normal behavior.

Because of inherent data variability, we define “normal” as a range rather than a specific number. A state identified as “normal” falls within that range. Other designations gauge the deviation above or below the normal range. The dashboard looks at rates, and now volumes as well, by state showing the state both as the origin and as the destination.

What is this data telling me?

The map assesses state-level impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. trucking industry by four equipment types – dry van, refrigerated, flatbed, and specialized – using Truckstop.com spot market data and analysis done by FTR. The map reflects the most recent seven days and are updated regularly.

The map shows whether or not truck spot rates and volumes are being impacted by COVID-19. It tells us if spot rates and volumes are higher or lower than what the industry would normally expect at this time of year in a normal economy.

What do the ranges mean?

The ranges for each of the “buckets” are a calculation from normal. These buckets are in increments of 5% to better easily understand the sensitivity.

Because of inherent data variability, we define “normal” as a range rather than a specific number. A state identified as “normal” falls within that range. Other designations (seen below) gauge the deviation above or below the normal range. The dashboard looks at rates and volumes by state showing the state both as the origin and as the destination.

Here are how the ranges are broken down

  • Significantly Above is a range greater than 15% above the normalized number for a 7 day period.
  • Moderately Above is a range of 10% to 15% above the normalized number for a 7 day period.
  • Slightly Above is a range of 5% to 10% above the normalized number for a 7 day period.
  • Normal is a range of +/-5% from the normalized number for a 7 day period.
  • Slightly Below is a range of 5% to 10% below the normalized number for a 7 day period.
  • Moderately Below is a range of 10% to 15% below the normalized number for a 7 day period.
  • Significantly Below is a range greater than 15% below the normalized number for a 7 day period.

How do we define a "normal” economic environment?

Because of inherent data variability, we define “normal” as a range rather than a specific number. Normal is a range of +/-5% deviation from an expected rate in a traditional economic environment. A state identified as “normal” falls within that range.

This is the range of data that the industry would normally expect to see at any given point of time, based upon the seasonality. This does not indicate anything about the change in truck rates or volumes. The seasonality is derived from data from the previous 5 years for the same 7 days of the corresponding time-frame. This allows for understanding seasonality. The data is then calibrated to the last known month that was not impacted by COVID-19, which was January 2020.

Does a number above normal mean that rates are rising?

No. It is only showing that a truck spot rate is above what the industry would typically expect and by how much.

Does a number below normal mean that rates are falling?

No. It is only showing that a truck spot rate is below what the industry would typically expect and by how much.

How current is the information?

The data is collected daily. It is published within 48 hours of the close of business the following business day.

How far back does the data go?

The dashboard only allows you to go back to the first week of January. However, the underlying data contains datasets going back to January 2014.

What is an “origin” definition?

It is the spot rate listed for a load where the load originated in that state.

What is a “destination” definition?

It is the spot rate listed for a load where the load terminated (or was delivered) in that state.

What is a spot rate?

It is the posted dollar per mile for that load to be moved. The data being used is from Truckstop.com.

Why do origins and destinations look different on the map for the same period of time?

Many loads originate (origin) in one state and are terminated (destination) in another state. As such, we would not expect the origins and destinations to look the same for any given state.

Can I look at different states and compare them?

No. Do not compare states to each other. States are benchmarked to their own normal.

What value do I get out of looking at the origin and destination impacts for a given state?

It can help quickly identify imbalances in prices as compared to normal levels for a given state on a daily basis. In a typical economic environment, we would expect to see both origin and destination levels to show up as normal on the dashboard.

What is the definition of Dry Van?

An enclosed, rectangular, box trailer that carries general (dry) freight.

What is the definition of Refrigerated Van?

A refrigerated and insulated van used to transport temperature-sensitive freight.

What is the definition of Flatbed?

A flat-surfaced, open, trailer with no enclosure or doors.

What is the definition of Specialized?

There is a wide assortment of specialized trailers that are highly engineered for specific purposes (i.e. auto hauler, livestock, oversized)