Trucking firms could see their biggest rate increases in years in 2011, and coupled with rising equipment and fuel prices, end products’ costs could increase accordingly, USA Today reported Monday.

An analyst with R.W. Baird estimated that rates could gain 5%, the most since 2005, the paper reported in its business section.

After falling from 2007 to 2009, trucking rates edged up 2% last year and could surge in coming weeks in advance of Easter retail sales, the analyst told the newspaper.

USA Today cited tighter capacity, higher equipment costs and more restrictions on drivers’ hours of service as factors pushing rates higher.

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