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BTS releases June 2014 freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, declined 0.9 percent in June from May, falling after four consecutive monthly increases, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The June 2014 index level (119.1) was 25.9 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.

The level of freight shipments in June measured by the Freight TSI (119.1) was 0.9 percent below the revised all-time high level of 120.2 in May 2014. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000.

The May index, the all-time high, was revised to 120.2 from 120.0 in last month’s release.  Monthly numbers for January and March were revised down slightly.  There was a larger downward revision for September 2013, 118.1 in last month’s release to 116.8.

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 index for each freight mode declined in June with the largest decline in pipelines. The declines took place when construction spending, which often is a driver of transportation shipments, declined in June after several months of increases. Construction spending declined although there was growth in several other economic indicators. Despite the decrease, the freight index was higher in each month of the second quarter of 2014 than it was in any month of the first quarter of 2014 when weather impacted transportation. 

Trend: June was the third consecutive month in which the index reached the levels that had been attained prior to the weather-related downturn in the early part of the year, even though the June index was below the level reached in the previous two months.  The index reached its all-time high level (120.2) in May 2014.  After dipping to 94.6 in April 2009, the index rose by 25.9 percent in the succeeding 62 months.  

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