Freight for Thought: Trucking, warehousing and courier employment declining

The following insights are provided by Sunset’s Strategic Account Management team.

Trends and discussions range from seasonal manufacturing and agriculture trends that affect available capacity to general insight into outside factors affecting freight volumes.

Below is a summary of the March insights:



  • Load-to-truck ratio by DAT on 03/19/23 is 2.08.
  • Trucking, warehousing, and courier employment are declining; however, they are not plunging as rapidly as they did in 2020, and still exceed year-ago levels.
  • CH Robinson confirms more layoffs likely in 2023.


  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) declined 0.1% in February over January.
  • Total industrial production in February was 0.2% below its year-earlier level according to the Federal Reserve’s Industrial Production report.


  • U.S. average cost of Diesel is $4.185 as of 03/20/23 – down $.06 from the week
    prior, and down $0.94 from a year ago.
  • FedEx Freight, the largest US trucking company by revenue, is shrinking its physical footprint to match lower demand for less-than-truckload (LTL) freight.

Short Term Expectations
Sunset expects demand to reduce or stay flat in the coming weeks and capacity to remain generally available.   



  • CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, and Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) have announced a GRI due to take affect later this month. Economists think it’s unlikely the rate increase will stick due to the sheer amount of excess capacity currently in the market.
  • Analysis by JOC indicates that there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the USWC. Improvements in its situation, whether in terms of cost, service, or perceived risk (as in endless labor negotiations) have the potential to reverse the loss of West Coast regional share and restore much of the lost volume.


  • Imports expected to slowly climb but should remain below 2022 levels through mid-summer.


  • Freightos Global Container Rate Index (FBX) at $1,463 as of 03/21/23, a 7% drop since last week.
  • YoY we’ve seen the monthly average drop 79.7% from $9,789 in February 2022 to $1,984 in February 2023.

Short Term Expectations
Sunset expects ocean capacity to remain available and import demand to continue to be low into 2023.

Additional resources:

  • Knight-Swift Transportation is buying U.S. Xpress. The deal is valued at $808M, including assumption of $484M of debt. (Logistics Management)
  • US SE ports prepping for more growth amid continued West Coast diversions. (JOC)

Industry data is pulled and summarized weekly from key proprietors and industry experts using multiple publications and sources. Sources include, but not limited to: FreightWaves, Cass Transportation Index, DAT, Journal of Commerce (JOC), PYMNTS, NRF, Cleveland Research. The information is discussed with Sunset Managing Directors and validated prior to publication of summary data in this posting.

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