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BTS releases freight Transportation Services Index (TSI);
Freight shipments rose 1.0% in December from November

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 1.0 percent in December from November, rising for the second consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The December 2012 index level (109.9) was 16.6 percent above the April 2009 low during the recession. 

BTS, a part of the Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in December measured by the Freight TSI (109.9) was 3.5 percent below the all-time high level of 114.0 in December 2011. BTS’ TSI records began in 1990. 

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 Freight TSI increased in December 2012, its second consecutive month of growth with both rail freight and trucking showing large increases. The rail and trucking increases were due, at least in part, to further recovery from Hurricane Sandy, as well as general economic activity. 

Trend: Since peaking in December 2011 (114.0) at the highest level in the 22-year history of the Freight TSI series, the index remained in a narrow band through 2012, except for a drop in October (107.1), its lowest level since May 2011 (105.2). The index ended 2012 in December at the same level it started in January (109.9). After dipping to 94.3 in April 2009 during the recession, freight shipments increased in 29 of the last 44 months, rising 16.6 percent during that period. 

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in December 2012 (109.9) were 16.6 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 December 2012 level is down 3.5 percent from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (114.0). 

See Freight TSI Press Release for summary tables and additional data. See Transportation Services Index for historical data and methodology.