Episode 45 Show Notes

Increased consumer spending not enough to end trucking bloodbath

An estimated 35,000 new trucking companies shut down in the 12 months ending Sept. 30

Rachel Premack·Thursday, November  November 02, 2023

Ohio resident Matthew James Collins hauls frozen food around the Midwest — onion rings, ice cream and the like. On a recent October morning, Collins was trucking through a snowstorm in Minnesota. 

He wasn’t carrying much. Collins recalled when he ran this route last year, he would regularly move 22 skids of frozen foods (a type of pallet) for four different corporate accounts. Now he’s moving just 12 skids for two clients.

The health of the trucking industry is typically a good gauge for how the U.S. economy at large is faring. That’s not the case right now. Economists remain stunned by how much stuff Americans are buying amid historic inflation and interest rate hikes. At the same time, the trucking industry is embroiled in a meltdown that’s slamming operators large and small.

“It doesn’t even seem like the broader economy even knows we’re in a recession,” said Steve Troyer, president of California Midwest Xpress, a 30-truck fleet. “But we’re in a good one.”

Americans are spending a larger chunk of their income on durable goods than they did before the pandemic, according to Goldman Sachs research. The U.S. economy saw “blockbuster” growth in the third quarter of 2023; it was the biggest surge in nearly two years, and attributed in part to increased consumer spending. Around 72.6% of the nation’s freight by weight is hauled by semi-truck. If Americans are buying so much, why aren’t truckers seeing a boon?

This trucking bloodbath is particularly gory 

Trucking is a highly cyclical industry. During good times, manufacturers deliver more equipment to trucking fleets that want to expand and capture that surfeit of business and profits. Individuals open their own trucking fleets too. 

The boom time typically lasts for under a year. Inevitably, so much capacity enters the industry and depresses rates again. Whatever trend outside of trucking that was spurring all of that new demand usually runs dry too. That means too many trucks and not enough freight to move. 

The federal government tracks the number of trucking authorities created or shut down every month. Authorities are often put out of service after they fail to pay insurance premiums. In typical upcycles, a few hundred net trucking authorities are created, then a few hundred net trucking authorities are destroyed when the market flips less than a year later. 

Tens of thousands of trucking companies were created during 2020 to 2022. The overwhelming majority were just one driver. (Source: FreightWaves SONAR)

The most recent freight upcycle quashed that pattern. The upcycle began around June 2020, when the federal government approved about 500 net trucking authorities. That reached a fever pitch in the summer of 2021, when around 2,000 net trucking authorities were created in a single month. It wasn’t until June 2022 when the cycle turned and net trucking authorities flipped back to negative. 

The pandemic trucking boom lasted twice as long as a typical upswing. And each month created many times more trucking companies than a typical red-hot trucking month.

There’s still a massive excess of trucking authorities, according to federal data. In January 2020, there were around 255,000 authorities. Now there are around 363,000 authorities. Most of these businesses are small fleets with fewer than 10 drivers.

Tens of thousands of those new carriers have already shut down. According to a FreightWaves analysis of federal data, an estimated 35,000 new trucking companies shuttered in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. For the 10 years before that, the average number of out-of-service orders was 15,585.




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A couple large chain truck stops are putting in more handicap spots and making all spots a pay to park. The thinking behind this is the large chains feel they are losing money on the back end supplying parking and not getting any sales from the items they sell from drivers using large grocery store chains to buy their supplies instead of the travel centers. So they’re trying to make up the revenue elsewhere. Buckle up drivers, they’re gonna fleece the drivers first before the public. 


In 2020 the top 20 Biggest Trucking Companies in the US

Below, we have listed some of the biggest trucking companies in the US. Let us take a look at them.

Prime Inc.

Founded: 1970

Revenue: 2 billion USD (2020)

Employees: 2205

                                                                                            J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.

Founded: 1961

Revenue: 12.16 billion USD (2020)

Employees: 29,056 (2019)


YRC Worldwide

Founded: 1929

Revenue: 1.183 billion USD (2020)

Employees: 29,000 (2019)

Hub Group

Founded: 1971

Revenue: 3.7 billion USD (2019)

Employees: 2000+ (2019)

UPS Inc.

Founded: 1907

Revenue: 97.3 billion USD (2021)

Employees: 543,000 (approximately)

Penske Logistics

Founded: 1969

Knight-Swift Transport Services

Founded: 1990

Revenue: 4.67 USD (2020)

Employees: 28,000+ (2020)


Estes Express Lines

Founded: 1931

Revenue: 3.6 billion USD (2020)

Employees: 20,000 (2022)


XPO Logistics

Founded: 1989

Revenue: 12.8 billion USD (2020)

Employees: 44,000 (2021)



Founded: 1976

Revenue: 4,552.8 million USD (2021)

Employees: 15,225 (2021)



Founded: 1932

Revenue: 3 billion USD (2020)

Employees: 15,000


U.S Express Enterprises

Founded: 1985

Revenue: 1,742 million USD (2020)

Employees: 8600+



Founded: 1966

Revenue: 4.0 billion USD (2021)

Employees: 13,000 (2022)



Ryder Supply Chain Solutions

Founded: 1933

Revenue: US$8.925 billion (2019)

Employees: 39,900 (2019)

 FedEx Corp.

Founded: 1971

Revenue: 20.6 billion USD (2021)

Employees: 850,000+ (approximately)


Roadrunner Transportation Systems

Founded: 2005

Revenue: $1,848 million USD (2019)

Employees: 4502

Werner Enterprises

Founded: 1956

Revenue: 702.9 million USD (2021)

Employees: 12,784 (2022)


Landstar Systems

Founded: 1968

Revenue: 6.5 billion USD (2021)

Employees: 1320 (2021)


TFI International

Founded: 1957

Revenue: 3.484 billion USD (2020)

Employees: 16,753 (2020)

                                                                                                                                                                       Old Dominion

Founded: 1934

Revenue: 4.015 billion USD (2020)

Employees: 21,000 (2020)

List of Truck Companies in USA

What’s surprising is that the list of truck companies in the USA doesn’t end here. Below, we have listed some more biggest trucking companies providing transportation and logistics solutions to their customers.

RankTrucking CompanyFoundedEmployees
21Daseke Inc.20085930
22UniGroup Inc.1988
23R+L Carriers1965
24CRST International19557131
25Saia Inc.192410,300
26C.R England19208196
27Kenan Advantage Group19979000
28Universal Logistics Holdings19326335
29Sirva Inc.1998
30Southeastern Freight Lines19508989
31Forward Air19905411
32Averitt Express19589000
33Anderson Trucking Service19552143
34Evans Delivery1939429
35Crete Carrier Corp.19666000
37Lynden Inc.19062658
38Celadon Group Inc.19855500
40KLLM Transport Services1963
41Atlas World Group1948650
42Covenant Transportation Group19865500
43Pitt Ohio Transportation Group19785751
44Central Transport InternationalN/A
45Quality Distribution1984
46Day and Ross19503277
47Cardinal Logistics19924220
48Marten Transport19463600
49PS Logistics20043664
50AAA Cooper Transportation19555234