Trucking Industry Forecast 2023

Updated on:
June 1, 2023

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The trucking industry has been an integral part of the American economy, transporting goods and products from one place to another. However, the pandemic took a toll on the industry, followed by supply chain issues, leading to a struggling freight market and squeezing out owner-operators. In this post, we’ll provide a market update and explore whether the trucking industry will be better in 2023. Additionally, for those looking to get into the trucking industry, we will share insights on how first-time owner-operators can secure financing.

The Struggling Freight Market is Squeezing Out Owner-Operators

Let’s start with the bad news.

The freight market has been struggling since the pandemic hit. The lockdowns and restrictions that were put in place to control the spread of the virus led to a decrease in consumer spending, which, in turn, led to a decrease in demand for goods and products. As a result, freight rates and spot rates have been lower than usual, and shippers have been able to negotiate lower contract rates with trucking companies.

This has made it difficult for owner-operators to compete with larger trucking companies, who have a larger fleet and a larger customer base. Owner-operators are also facing increased maintenance costs for their older trucks, which makes it difficult for them to compete with trucking companies that have newer trucks.

Now the good news.

As the pandemic died down and consumers began to feel more confident about the economy and their financial situation, they began to spend more money on goods and products, leading to an increase in demand for transportation services.

The increase in consumer spending has been especially beneficial for the spot market, as shippers turned to spot rates to fulfill their transportation needs. This increase in demand for trucking services has led to an increase in freight rates and spot rates, which has helped to boost the industry’s profitability.

What is Happening to the Trucking Industry?

The trucking industry was hit hard by the pandemic, and it is still struggling to recover. Last year, the trucking market was in a freight recession, and the first half of this year has seen a downturn in freight demand. However, there are signs of improvement. Bloomberg reports that the backlog of orders for new trucks has increased, and the housing market is showing signs of growth. Additionally, fuel prices have remained relatively stable.

Trucking companies are adapting to the changing market by shifting their focus to the spot market. This has led to an increase in demand for dry van and flatbed trucks. Intermodal transportation is also becoming increasingly popular, as it offers a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional trucking.

Truck Driver Shortage

The trucking industry is facing a driver shortage, which is exacerbating the struggles that the industry is facing. The shortage has been a problem for several years. Many truckers left the industry.

Trucking companies are responding to the driver shortage by offering sign-on bonuses, higher pay, and better benefits. However, these incentives may not be enough to attract new drivers, as many potential drivers are hesitant to enter the industry due to the long hours, time away from home, and perceived lack of job security.

The Impact of Fuel Costs

Fuel costs have always been a significant expense for the trucking industry, and they continue to have a significant impact. While fuel prices have remained relatively stable in recent years, any sudden increase in prices can have a substantial impact on the industry’s profitability. Rising fuel prices can lead to higher transportation costs, which can result in higher prices for consumers. Additionally, fuel costs can impact the types of trucks that trucking companies and owner-operators purchase. Fuel-efficient trucks, such as those with hybrid or electric engines, can help mitigate the impact of rising fuel prices. As the industry looks towards a more sustainable future, there is increasing interest in alternative fuel sources, such as hydrogen or biofuels, which could further reduce the industry’s dependence on traditional fossil fuels.

How to Get Truck Financing for First-Time Owner-Operators

If you’re a first-time owner-operator, getting financing for your truck can be challenging. However, there are options available to you. Leasing is a popular option for first-time owner-operators, as it allows drivers to get a new truck without having to pay the full cost upfront. Additionally, leasing can help you establish credit, which can make it easier to get financing in the future.

Once you have three months of revenue, another option is to apply for a merchant cash advance. An MCA can be a good option for truckers because it provides quick access to cash without putting up your truck for collateral or refinancing your truck, nor a lengthy approval process. Truckers often face unexpected expenses, such as maintenance costs or repairs, which can be difficult to manage without access to additional funds. A merchant cash advance allows truckers to access the cash they need quickly, which can help them cover these unexpected expenses and keep their trucks on the road.

One of the benefits of a merchant cash advance is that it is based on a percentage of future revenue. This can be particularly helpful for truckers who may have irregular income, as it allows them to not deplete their cash flow during slower periods. Additionally, because the MCA funders terms are more flexible than loans, truckers can establish a plan that works best for their business.

Industry experts recommend that first-time owner-operators work with a funder who has experience in truck financing. These providers are familiar with the unique challenges of the trucking industry and can help you find the financing options that work best for you. The LCF Group has more than a decade in this area, funding thousands of owner-operators. You can also find more information on best practices for financing your trucking company at the ATA (American Trucking Association).


While the trucking industry faced some challenges over the past few years, it is poised for growth in 2023. With the economy rebounding and demand for goods and services on the rise, the need for trucking services is expected to increase as well. For individual owner-operators, this presents both opportunities and challenges. While there may be increased demand for their services, they will also need to navigate rising fuel costs, regulations, and other industry trends. However, with careful planning, partnerships with trusted financing providers, and a commitment to excellence, individual owner-operators can position themselves for success in this growing industry.

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