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BTS releases February 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, fell 0.7 percent in February from January, falling after two months of growth, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). The February 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 February measured by the Freight TSI (122.2) was 1.2 percent below the all-time high level of 123.7 in November 2014. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The January index was revised to 123.1 from 122.2 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 February Freight TSI decrease of 0.7 percent from January was due to substantial declines in trucking and pipeline, and a smaller decrease in rail intermodal. Air freight, water, and rail carloads all increased. The TSI decrease paralleled a drop in the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index which declined by 0.5 percent in February (reversing its decline in January), with particular declines in mining (1.4 percent) and utilities (4.0 percent). The ISM Manufacturing Index,though it increased, was again below 50, indicating declining manufacturing activity. Value of manufacturers’ inventories decreased again in January, though inventory to sales ratios remained high. See Seasonally-Adjusted Transportation Data for numbers for individual modes.

Trend: The February Freight TSI decline of 0.7 percent from January left the index 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. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in February 2016 (122.2) were 29.0 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.7). The February 2016 level was 1.2 percent below the historic peak reached in November 2014 (123.7).

Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were up 0.6 percent in February 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.