Spot market truckload rates rose 4 percent in March from February and were up 15 percent year-over-year, according to TransCore Freight Solutions.
Dry van spot market rates were up across the country, TransCore said, led by prices in Denver, Los Angeles and Stockton, Calif.
Truck pricing is chasing shipping demand as the economic recovery quickens its pace. The Cass Freight Index reported freight shipments rose 6.9 percent in March.
Truckload freight volume on TransCore's load boards has been "unusually high," the company said, setting same-month records in each month of the first quarter.
The company matches more than 60 million loads and trucks a year.
Load posts on TransCore's network increased 42 percent in March from February, and were up 61 percent from March 2010, the company said.
Spot market capacity actually jumped 10 percent in March after months of contraction, but rising demand pushed the load-to-truck ratio up to 10 to 1.
"There is a measurable increase in truck freight," TransCore Industry Pricing Analyst Mark Montague said in an April 13 note to customers.
Spot market rates for dry van freight rose faster than any other segment over the past 15 months, shooting up 10 percent in 2010, according to TransCore.
In the first quarter of 2011, dry van spot rates rose 13 percent, while flatbed pricing increased 11 percent. Reefer rates advanced only 4 percent in the quarter.
As capacity tightens, shippers are turning more to freight brokers and third-party logistics companies to secure capacity, TransCore said.
"Shippers are reporting turndowns from their favored carriers, resulting in more business channeled to brokers and 3PLs," he said.
In return, "brokers are posting loads more aggressively on load boards, where freight availability more than doubled year-over-year," said Montague.
Brokered loads rose 10 percent per month on average in 2010, TransCore reported in its fourth annual Broker Benchmark Survey, released last week.