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About the Spot Pressure Heatmap - Presented by Truckstop.com & FTR

These collaborative heat maps, brought to you by Truckstop.com & FTR, assess state-level pressures on the U.S. trucking industry. Questions are answered below. View the current heatmaps at https://freight.ftrintel.com/recovery

What is the methodology being used to generate the U.S. Spot Pressure Heatmaps? 

FTR's analysis examines historical seasonal behavior and normalizes the data to represent how the trucking environment would look in a typical year. The color variations on the map indicate how the last seven days compared 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 both rates and volumes, showing results for the state as the origin (outbound) and destination (inbound). 

All of the data represented in these heatmaps is derived from load board activity on Truckstop.com. Stay up-to-date with weekly insights into trucking activity by subscribing to Truckstop.com's Spot Market Insights, click here to subscribe to the mailing list!

What is this data telling me? 

The maps assess state-level pressures 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 maps reflect the most recent seven days and are updated regularly. 

The map 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 "bucket" are a calculation from normal. These buckets are discussed below. 

Because of inherent data variability, we define "normal" as a range rather than a specific number. A state identified as "normal" falls willing 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 the destination. 

Here are how the ranges are broken down for rates (highest to lowest)

  • More than 50% above the normalized number for a 7-day period.
  • 40%-5o% above the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • 30%-4o% above the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • 20%-3o% above the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • 10%-2o% above the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • Normal is a range of +/- 10% from the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • 10%-2o% below the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • 20%-3o% below the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • More than 3o% below the normalized number for a 7-day period. 

Here are how the ranges are broken down for loads

  • More than 100% above the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • 80%-100% above the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • 60%-80% above the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • 40%-60% above the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • 20%-40% above the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • Normal is a range of +/- 20% from the normalized number for a 7-day period.
  • 20%-40% below the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • 40%-60% below the normalized number for a 7-day period. 
  • More than 60% 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 for rates is a range of +/- 10% deviation from an expected rate in a traditional economic environment. Normal for loads is a range of +/- 20% deviation from expected volume in a traditional economic environment. A state identified as "normal" falls within those ranges. 

These are the ranges of data that the industry would normally expect to see at any given point of time, based on seasonality. This metric does not indicate a specific 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. 

Does a number above normal mean that rates of volumes are rising? 

Not necessarily. It only shows that a truck spot rate or volume is above what the industry would typically expect and by how much. 

Does a number below normal mean that rates or volumes are falling? 

Not necessarily. It only shows that a truck spot rate or volume is below what the industry would typically expect and by how much. 

How current is the information? 

The data is collected daily and published regularly. 

How far back does the data go? 

The dashboard allows you to go back to the first week of January 2020. However, the underlying data utilizes datasets going back to January 2014. 

What is an "origin" definition?

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

What is a "destination" definition? 

It is the spot metric listed for a load that 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. It is an all-in rate that includes fuel surcharges. 

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 directly compare them?

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

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

It can help identify imbalances in prices or volumes as compared to normal levels for a given state. 

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 enclosures or doors. 

What is the definition of Specialized?

A wide assortment of specialized trailers highly engineered for specific purposes (i.e. auto hauler, livestock, oversized, power-only).