The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 0.2 percent in May from April, rising for the second consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The May 2016 index level (121.8) was 28.6 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).
The level of freight shipments in May measured by the Freight TSI (121.8) was 1.5 percent below the all-time high level of 123.7 in December 2014 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.
The April index was revised to 121.5 from 121.1 and the March index was revised to 119.7 from 119.5 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 April to May Freight TSI increase of 0.2 percent was due to growth in all freight modes except trucking and air freight, which declined. See numbers for individual modes. The increase took place as the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index declined by 0.4 percent in May, after rising by 0.6 percent in April. However, personal income, measured by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, increased by 0.2 percent, led by personal consumption which increased by 0.4 percent, while imports of goods increased by 1.9 percent. Also, employment grew, and the ISM Manufacturing Index, already above 50, increased slightly, indicating accelerating manufacturing growth.
Trend: The 0.2 percent Freight TSI rise in May from April was the second monthly increase in a succession. The combined increase of 1.8 percent over the two months from March to May was the largest two-month increase since September to November 2014. The two months of successive increase followed two months of successive decline, leaving the May level 1.6 percent below the December 2014 peak of 123.7. The index remains high compared to earlier years, rising 28.6 percent since the low of 94.7 in April 2009. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.
Index highs and lows: For-hire freight shipments in May 2016 (121.8) were 28.6 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.7). The May 2016 level was 1.5 percent below the historic peak reached in December 2014 (123.7).
Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were up 0.3 percent in May compared to the end of 2015 (Table 3).