The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 1.2 percent in February from January, rising for the fourth consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI). The February 2013 index level (113.9) was 20.1 percent above the April 2009 low during the recession and the highest level since December 2011. BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in February measured by the Freight TSI (113.9) was 1.1 percent below the revised all-time high level of 115.2 in December 2011. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. Beginning with this release, BTS has improved procedures and refined the TSI methodology. As a result there have been revisions in monthly numbers released previously. Documentation will be made available in the near future.
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. The TSI is seasonally adjusted so that trends reflect changes beyond normal monthly fluctuations.
Analysis: The Freight TSI increased for a fourth consecutive month in February 2013, with growth across most freight modes. This increase was consistent with several other indicators pointing to economic growth in February.
Trend: With the February increase to 113.9, the index has exceeded its 2012 range for two months in a row. With four consecutive monthly increases, the February index was at its second highest level since April 2009 during the recession exceeded only by December 2011. January 2013 was the third highest level since April 2009. After dipping to 94.8 in April 2009, the index rose 20.1 percent in the succeeding 46 months.
Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in February 2013 (113.9) were 20.1 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recent recession (94.8). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level over the entire history of the TSI since 2000. The February 2013 level is down 1.1 percent from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (115.2).