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For a look at last month’s data dive on intermodal spot rates, click the link here.

Coming off of last month’s significant intermodal spot rate changes, May 2021 has seen much less volatility. After climbing 30% in April, Los Angeles rates began to stabilize and fell just 3%. Meanwhile, Atlanta once again continued its near-perfect growth trendline, while Chicago saw similar trends but in the opposite direction.

Even though the LA market saw a drop in spot rates, May still saw the second highest average spot rate for this year so far. In fact, this month was still higher than at any point in 2020, with the exception of December.

Strong spot activity last month brought Atlanta rates up 10% to once again hit a record high. Just this year alone, rates are up 37% since January. It’s also important to note that there is now only a 5% difference between Chicago and Atlanta rates, showing just how strong the Atlanta market continues to be.

The Chicago market is behaving quite similarly to Los Angeles, continuing to stabilize after jumping to a record high a few months back. And in the same vein is LA, the decrease in average rates month-over-month is still keeping Chicago spot rates above every spot rate update in 2020.

All markets have been showing intermodal spot rate averages that are much higher than what was seen last year. Healthy volumes across the industry are a part of this trend, but the price of diesel has also been a factor in bringing rates up. Every region in the country has seen increases in the cost of fuel. As demand rises for fuel, it will be interesting to see how this continues to affect intermodal freight rates.

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