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BTS releases freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)
Freight shipments rose 0.1% in July from June

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.1 percent in July from June, rising after a one-month decline, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The July 2012 index level (109.6) was 16.3 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 in July measured by the Freight TSI, 109.6, was 3.8 percent below the all-time high level of 114.0 in December 2011. BTS’ TSI records began in 1990. 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.

Analysis: The Freight TSI in July 2012 continued a pattern of little change since January. This appears to reflect the rate of growth in the general economy. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth slowed to a revised 1.7 percent in the second quarter and a revised 2.0 percent in first quarter of 2012, from 3.0 percent in fourth quarter of 2011, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Waterborne freight, which had declined significantly in June, remained stable in July, apparently due to the impact of continued low water conditions on the Mississippi River system. 

Trend: Freight shipments in July 2012 (109.6) were at the sixth highest monthly level since the early recession month of July 2008 despite the 3.8 percent decline from its peak in December 2011 (114.0), which was the highest level in the 22-year history of the Freight TSI series. After dipping to a recent low in April 2009 (94.3) during the recession, freight shipments increased in 25 of the last 39 months, rising 16.3 percent during that period. For additional historical data, go to

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in July 2012 (109.6) were 16.3 percent higher than 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 July 2012 level is down 3.8 percent from the historic freight shipment peak reached in December 2011 (114.0).