The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry fell 0.2 percent in June from May, 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) released today. The June 2013 index level (113.8) was 20.0 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.
BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in June measured by the Freight TSI (113.8) was 1.2 percent below the all-time high level of 115.2 in December 2011. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000.
The May index was revised to 114.1 from 114.3 in the previous release. Monthly numbers for each month from December through March were also revised, showing slightly lower index levels.
Beginning with the April release, BTS improved procedures and refined the TSI methodology. As a result there have been minor changes 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.
Analysis: The decrease of 0.2 percent in June freight transportation was driven by a decline in rail carloads and pipeline shipments. Coal and grain were the weakest commodities for rail carloads. Trucking, rail intermodal (a separate measure from rail carloads), and water were stable, while air freight grew.
Trend: The Freight TSI remained above its 2012 range for the sixth month in a row, despites the June decline. It declined slightly over the second quarter of 2013, dropping 0.1 percent in June from its level of 113.9 in March 2013, the first decline over a full quarter since September 2012. After dipping to 94.8 in April 2009, the index rose 20 percent in the succeeding 50 months.
Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in June 2013 (113.8) were 20.0 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.9). The June 2013 level is down 1.2 percent from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (115.2).