BTS Releases Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI); Freight Shipments Rose 1.2% in November from October

Published on : Friday, January 10, 2014

department-of-transportaionThe amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 1.2 percent in November from October, rebounding from a one-month decline to reach its highest all-time level, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The November 2013 index level (116.5) was 22.8 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in November measured by the Freight TSI (116.5) reached an all-time high, exceeding the previous high of 115.4 in September 2013 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000.

The October index was revised to 115.1 from 114.3 in last month’s release. Monthly numbers for May through September were also revised up from last month’s release.

Beginning with the April release, BTS improved procedures and refined the TSI methodology. As a result there have been minor changes in monthly numbers released previously. Documentation will be made available in the near future.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.

Analysis: The 1.2 percent increase in November freight transportation after a small dip in October was a return to the growth that has characterized the second half of 2013. The November rise was a result of increases in all modes except pipeline. Growth in tonnage intensive industries such as heavy construction and oil and gas fracking produced an increase in truck tonnage. Both trucking and rail benefitted from growing auto production.

Trend: The Freight TSI remained above its 2012 range for the 11th month in a row. Beginning with January, every month in 2013 has exceeded the high point of 2012, 112.2 reached in December. The November 2013 level was the highest all-time level for the index. After dipping to 94.9 in April 2009, the index rose 22.8 percent in the succeeding 55 months.

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