The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 0.3 percent in September from August, rising for the third consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The September 2014 index level (121.5) was 28.5 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.
The level of freight shipments in September measured by the Freight TSI (121.5) reached its all-time high. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000.
The August index was revised to 121.2 from 120.9 in last month’s release. There were smaller upward revisions for each of the previous months in 2014.
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: All freight modes grew in September except rail carloads, which were unchanged. During the month, several other indicators of related parts of the economy that often impact transportation increased. In particular, industrial production grew 1 percent after several months of slow or negative growth. Manufacturers’ shipments and inventories both increased – inventories have increased for 22 of 23 months to reach an historic high.
Trend: The Freight TSI increased for the third month in a row in September, reaching an all-time high. The increase was a return to growth after a decline in June. Third quarter 2014 also represented a return to growth after two quarters of modest quarterly declines. The quarterly growth (2.3 percent) was the most rapid since the fourth quarter of 2011. After dipping to 94.6 in April 2009, the index rose 28.5 percent in the succeeding 65 months.
See Freight TSI Press Release for summary tables and additional data. See Transportation Services Index for historical data and methodology.