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Freight Shipments Rose 1.2% in November from October

Press Release Number: 
BTS 02-14
Date: 
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

PDF | Excel

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2008-November 2013

Excel | Table Version

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2008-November 2013

Source for Recession Dates: National Bureau of Economic Research, US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 1.2 percent in November from October, rebounding from a one-month delcine to reach its highest all-time level, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The November 2013 index level (116.5) was 22.8 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in November measured by the Freight TSI (116.5) reached an all-time high, exceeding the previous high of 115.4 in September 2013 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The October index was revised to 115.1 from 114.3 in last month’s release.  Monthly numbers for May through September were also revised up from last month’s release. 

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 1.2 percent increase in November freight transportation after a small dip in October was a return to the growth that has characterized the second half of 2013. The November rise was a result of increases in all modes except pipeline. Growth in tonnage intensive industries such as heavy construction and oil and gas fracking produced an increase in truck tonnage. Both trucking and rail benefitted from growing auto production.

Trend: The Freight TSI remained above its 2012 range for the 11th month in a row. Beginning with January, every month in 2013 has exceeded the high point of 2012, 112.2 reached in December. The November 2013 level was the highest all-time level for the index.  After dipping to 94.9 in April 2009, the index rose 22.8 percent in the succeeding 55 months. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in November 2013 (116.5) were 22.8 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.9). The November 2013 level is an all-time high (116.5).

Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were up 3.8 percent in November compared to the end of 2012 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 11.3 percent in the five years from the recession level of November 2008 and are up 9.6 percent in the 10 years from November 2003 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: November 2013 freight shipments were up 5.2 percent from November 2012 (Tables 4, 5).

The TSI has three seasonally adjusted indexes that measures changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. The three indexes are freight shipments, passenger travel and a combined measure that merges the freight and passenger indexes. TSI includes data from 2000 to the present. Release of the December index is scheduled for Feb. 12.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.01 percent in November from its October level (Table 6).  The Passenger TSI November 2013 level of 117.7 was 2.4 percent above the November 2012 level (Table 7). The index is up 6.1 percent in five years and up 18.9 percent in 10 years (Table 5).  The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in travel that involves the services of the for-hire passenger transportation sector. The seasonally adjusted index consists of data from air, local transit and intercity rail.

The monthly number for the Passenger TSI was revised down slightly. The Passenger TSI index otherwise remained unchanged during May through October 2013 from the last release.

Combined Index: The combined freight and passenger TSI rose 0.9 percent in November from its October level (Table 8). The combined TSI November 2013 level of 116.9 was 4.4 percent above the November 2012 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 9.7 percent in five years and up 12.0 percent in 10 years (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: Monthly data has changed from previous releases due to the use of concurrent seasonal analysis, which results in seasonal analysis factors changing as each months data are added.    

For a webinar on the TSI, see Past Webinars.  For a video explanation of the TSI, see Overview of the Transportation Services Index.  A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.

 

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Since May 2013

Percent Change from Previous Month
(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

  Freight Passenger Combined
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
May 114.2 1.1 117.7 0.0 115.2 0.8
June 114.1 -0.1 117.8 0.1 115.1 0.0
July 114.4 0.3 117.4 -0.4 115.3 0.1
August 114.9 0.4 117.9 0.4 115.8 0.4
September 115.4 0.4 117.3 -0.4 115.9 0.2
October 115.1 -0.2 117.7 0.3 115.9 -0.1
November 116.5 1.2 117.7 0.0 116.9 0.9

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2010-2013

Percent change from previous month

  2010 % Change 2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change
January 0.6 1.2 -3.4 0.2
February 1.6 -1.7 0.1 0.6
March 0.1 1.6 -0.5 0.7
April 0.7 -0.5 0.5 -0.9
May 0.5 -2.1 0.2 1.1
June -0.2 2.1 0.3 -0.1
July 0.6 0.2 -0.1 0.3
August -0.3 0.8 -0.5 0.4
September 0.8 0.6 0.0 0.4
October 0.6 0.2 -2.1 -0.2
November -0.6 -0.1 1.7 1.2
December 1.8 3.9 1.3  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2010-2013

  2010 2011 2012 2013
January 102.3 109.6 111.1 112.5
February 104.0 107.7 111.1 113.2
March 104.0 109.4 110.6 114.0
April 104.8 108.8 111.2 112.9
May 105.4 106.5 111.4 114.2
June 105.1 108.7 111.8 114.1
July 105.8 109.0 111.6 114.4
August 105.5 109.9 111.1 114.9
September 106.3 110.5 111.1 115.4
October 106.9 110.8 108.8 115.1
November 106.3 110.7 110.7 116.5
December 108.3 115.0 112.2  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2004-2013

Percent change to November from December of the previous year

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2004 3.7 5.0 4.1
2005 2.1 2.4 2.2
2006 -3.6 3.9 -1.6
2007 0.1 3.2 1.0
2008 -5.6 -4.9 -5.4
2009 1.2 -1.0 0.5
2010 4.5 3.5 4.2
2011 2.2 2.2 2.2
2012 -3.7 -1.2 -3.0
2013 3.8 1.3 3.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 4: Freight Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the November Freight TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  November Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 112.0 5.3
2005 113.3 1.2
2006 108.2 -4.5
2007 110.6 2.2
2008 104.6 -5.4
2009 101.7 -2.8
2010 106.3 4.6
2011 110.7 4.1
2012 110.7 0.0
2013 116.5 5.2

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 5: Transportation Services Indexes from Previous Years

Percent Change to November 2013 from November

Since November . . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to November 2013 Passenger TSI Percent change to November 2013 Combined TSI Percent change to November 2013
2012 1 5.2 2.4 4.4
2011 2 5.3 1.6 4.2
2010 3 9.6 2.8 7.6
2009 4 14.6 7.6 12.5
2008 5 11.3 6.1 9.7
2007 6 5.4 0.1 3.8
2006 7 7.7 3.8 6.5
2005 8 2.8 7.6 4.0
2004 9 4.1 11.6 6.0
2003 10 9.6 18.9 12.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2010-2013

Percent change from previous month

  2010 % Change 2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change
January 0.4 0.4 -1.0 0.6
February -2.5 -1.4 1.4 -0.3
March 2.9 1.8 -0.1 -0.2
April -0.5 0.0 -0.4 1.2
May 0.5 1.1 -0.4 0.0
June 0.9 -0.6 0.0 0.1
July 0.1 0.9 -0.6 -0.4
August -0.1 -2.2 1.2 0.4
September 1.4 2.5 -0.2 -0.4
October 1.6 -0.1 -1.6 0.3
November -1.1 0.0 0.6 0.0
December -1.1 0.5 1.0  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 7: Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the November Passenger TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  November Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 105.5 6.6
2005 109.4 3.7
2006 113.3 3.6
2007 117.5 3.7
2008 110.9 -5.7
2009 109.4 -1.4
2010 114.5 4.7
2011 115.8 1.1
2012 114.9 -0.7
2013 117.7 2.4

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2010-2013

Percent change from previous month

  2010 % Change 2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change
January 0.5 1.0 -2.8 0.3
February 0.4 -1.6 0.5 0.4
March 0.9 1.6 -0.4 0.5
April 0.4 -0.4 0.3 -0.3
May 0.5 -1.2 0.0 0.8
June 0.1 1.3 0.2 0.0
July 0.5 0.4 -0.3 0.1
August -0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.4
September 1.0 1.1 -0.1 0.2
October 0.9 0.1 -1.9 -0.1
November -0.7 -0.1 1.4 0.9
December 1.0 2.9 1.3  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 9: Combined Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the November Combined TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  November Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 110.3 5.7
2005 112.4 1.9
2006 109.7 -2.3
2007 112.6 2.6
2008 106.5 -5.5
2009 103.9 -2.5
2010 108.6 4.6
2011 112.1 3.2
2012 111.9 -0.2
2013 116.9 4.4

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Brief Explanation of the TSI

The Transportation Services Index (TSI) is a measure of the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire transportation industries.  The freight index measure changes in freight shipments while the passenger index measures changes in passenger travel. 

The TSI tells us how the output of transportation services has increased or decreased from month to month. The index can be examined together with other economic indicators to produce a better understanding of the current and future course of the economy.   The movement of the index over time can be compared with other economic measures to understand the relationship of changes in transportation output to changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The freight transportation index consists of:
For-hire trucking,
Railroad freight services (including rail based intermodal shipments such as
containers on flat cars),
Inland waterways transportation,
Pipeline transportation (including principally petroleum and petroleum products
and natural gas), and
Air freight.

The index does not include international or coastal waterborne movements,
private trucking, courier services, or the US Postal Service.
   
The passenger transportation index consists of:
Local transit,  
Intercity passenger rail, and  
 Passenger air transportation.  

The index does not include intercity bus, sightseeing services, ferry services, taxi service, private automobile usage, or bicycling and other non-motorized transportation.