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BTS: Freight Transportation Services Index up 1 percent

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 1.0 percent in October from September, rising after two m

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 1.0 percent in October from September, rising after two months of decline, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The October 2016 index level (122.0) was 28.8 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.


The level of freight shipments in October measured by the Freight TSI (122.0) was 2.1 percent below the all-time high level of 124.6 in July 2016. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.
The September index was revised to 120.8 from 121.5 in last month’s release. Monthly numbers for January through August remained virtually unchanged.

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 1.0 percent rise in the October Freight TSI from September was due to growth in trucking and rail intermodal, while all other modes declined (data on individual modes are seasonally adjusted by BTS). The October increase took place alongside growth in other economic indicators – employment increased by 161,000 jobs, retail sales increased by 0.8 percent, personal income increased by 0.6 percent, and housing starts rose by 25.5 percent. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index was unchanged in October as its mining and manufacturing components increased while utility output declined.

Trend: The 1.0 percent Freight TSI increase in October was the third largest monthly increase since November 2014. The increase followed two months of declines, and left TSI 2.1 percent below the all-time high level of 124.6 reached in July 2016. Since the beginning of 2015, the index has been extremely stable as it fluctuated above and below 122. It has deviated only twice by more than 1 percent from the 122 level – in March 2016 when it fell 1.9 percent below 122 to a two-year low and in July 2016 when it rose 2.1 percent above 122 to reach an all-time high. The index has risen 28.8 percent since the low of 94.8 in April 2009. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.
Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in October 2016 (122.0) were 28.8 percent higher than the low in April 2009 during the recession (94.7). The October 2016 level was 2.1 percent below the historic peak reached in July 2016 (124.6).

Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were up 0.4 percent in October compared to the end of 2015.