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BTS releases Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)
Freight shipments fell 0.8% in March from February

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry fell 0.8 percent in March from February, declining after a one-month increase, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI). The March level was 16.0 percent above the April 2009 low during the recession. 

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments measured by the Freight TSI, 109.4, declined from December 2011’s mark of 113.7 which was the all-time high since 1990 when BTS’ TSI records began. See historical TSI data

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation 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: Freight shipments in March 2012 (109.4) were at the fourth highest level since the early recession month of July 2008 despite the 3.8 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) during the recession, freight shipments increased in 23 of the last 35 months, rising 16.0 percent during that period. For additional historical data, go to

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in March 2012 (109.4) rose 16.0 percent from the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.3). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3). The March 2012 level is down 3.8 percent from the historic freight shipment peak reached in December 2011 (113.7). 

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are down 1.2 percent in the five years from pre-recession of March 2007 and up 10.9 percent in the 10 years from March 2002 despite declines in recent years.