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BTS releases Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)
Freight shipments fell 3.6% in January from December

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry fell 3.6 percent in January from December, declining after five consecutive monthly increases, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released on March 14.  

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments measured by the Freight TSI, 109.7, declined from the all-time high of 113.7 set one month earlier in December.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments in ton-miles, which are then 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. 

Trend: Shipments in January 2012 (109.7) were at the second highest level since July 2008 despite the 3.6 percent decline from December 2011 (113.7 on the index), which was the highest level in the 22-year history of the series. After dipping to a recent low in April 2009 (94.3), freight shipments increased in 23 of the last 33 months, rising 16.3 percent during that period (Tables 2, 2A). 

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in January 2012 (109.7 on the index) rose 16.3 percent from the recent low in April 2009 (94.3). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3). The January 2012 level is down 3.6 percent from the historic freight shipment peak reached in December 2011 (113.7). 

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 1.2 percent in the five years from January 2007 and up 11.1 percent in the 10 years from January 2002 despite declines in recent years.