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BTS Statistics Release: January 2016 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 0.5 percent in January from December, rising for the second consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The January 2016 index level (122.2) was 29.0 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.

The level of freight shipments in January measured by the Freight TSI (122.2) was 1.3 percent below the all-time high level of 123.8 in November 2014. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000.

The December 2015 index was revised to 121.6 from 121.0 in last month’s release.

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 January Freight TSI increase of 0.5 percent from December was due to substantial growth in rail intermodal and pipeline and a smaller increase in the largest mode, trucking. Air freight, water, and rail carloads all decreased. The TSI increase paralleled growth in the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index which rose 0.9 percent in December (reversing two months of declines), in personal income, up 0.5 percent, and in employment, which continued steady growth. The ISM Manufacturing Index was again below 50, indicating declining manufacturing activity and a continuing decrease in high inventories. The TSI growth took place despite severe winter weather. 

Trend: The January Freight TSI increase was the second consecutive monthly increase, the first time the index increased for two months in a row since November 2014. The two increases still left the index 0.7 percent below its October 2015 level and below the level of all months from July 2015 to October 2015. The index remains high compared to earlier years with an increase of 29.0 percent since the low of 94.7 in April 2009.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in January 2016 (122.2) were 29.0 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.7). The January 2016 level was 1.3 percent below the historic peak reached in November 2014 (123.8).

Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were up 0.5 percent in January compared to the end of 2015.

See Freight TSI Press Release for summary tables and additional data. See Transportation Services Index for historical data and methodology.
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