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Trucking bloodbath snares fleets large and small

Rachel Premack

Apr 28, 2023

Number of interstate trucking fleets dipped by nearly 9,000 in first 3 months of 2023

America’s $875 billion trucking industry is struggling. 

The number of authorized interstate trucking fleets in the U.S. declined by nearly 9,000 in the first quarter of 2023, according to federal data analyzed by Motive, a fleet management technology company. Several midsized fleets have already shuttered this year, including Florida’s Flagship Transport and North Carolina’s FreightWorks Transport. And major freight brokerages have laid off 1,000 employees in 2023 alone.

Per FreightWaves’ Outbound Tender Rejection Index, trucking fleets are rejecting about 2.8% of load requests. That makes “early 2023 the softest sustained truckload market since the tender data history began in early 2018,” as FreightWaves’ Zach Strickland wrote earlier this month

Folks throughout freight — from CEOs to truck drivers to dispatchers — are raising red flags about a downturn that could go in the history books. J.B. Hunt President Shelley Simpson wrote in a LinkedIn post recently that the current conditions remind her of 2009, which was the longest and most brutal freight recession of the 21st century.

Are you in the trucking industry? Email with your experience with the market in 2023.

Steve Urbish, a freight dispatcher based in New Jersey, has seen the number of truck drivers in his network fall from 18 before the pandemic to three today. Many of the clients he lost were owner-operators who could no longer profitably operate their own businesses. They gave up their authorities, sold their trucks and largely found company driving jobs. 

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