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BTS releases May 2014 freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.6 percent in May from April, 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) released today. The May 2014 index level (120.0) was 26.9 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. 

The level of freight shipments in May measured by the Freight TSI (120.0) reached a new all-time high level of 120.0, exceeding the previous high of 119.4 in November 2013. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. 

The April index was revised to 119.3 from 117.6 in last month’s release. Previous monthly numbers were also revised higher. 

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 May increase in the freight index was led by trucking, which grew rapidly for the fourth month in a row, as well as by increases in pipeline and waterborne. Growth in trucking occurred across different segments of the trucking sector, including dry van trucks as well as flatbed and tank trucks. Rail intermodal declined after three months of increases. The freight index has now risen for four consecutive months following a bottom in January that was largely weather-related and affected the entire economy, as measured by the GDP decline in the January-to-March period.

Trend: With four consecutive monthly increases, the index rose 3.4 percent following the weather-related low in January. In May, the index reached an all-time level (120.0), exceeding the previous all-time high (119.4) set in November before the winter decline. After dipping to 94.6 in April 2009, the index rose by 26.9 percent in the succeeding 61 months.  

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