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December 2014 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

Press Release Number: 
BTS 07-15
Date: 
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

PDF | Excel

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, December 2009- December 2014

Table Version | Excel

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, December 2009- December 2014

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

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, was virtually unchanged in December from November, failing to rise after five consecutive months of increases, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The December 2014 index level (123.8) was 30.9 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

The level of freight shipments in December measured by the Freight TSI (123.8) was less than one-tenth of 1 percent below the all-time high level of 123.9 in November 2014 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The November index was revised to 123.9 from 123.2 in last month’s release but still remains an all-time high.  July, September and October indexes were also revised up while the August index was revised down.

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: Trucking, rail carloads, and waterborne grew in December but air freight, pipeline, and rail intermodal decreased, resulting in the overall freight index remaining almost level. While the economy as measured by income and employment grew in December, it is notable that inventories, closely tied to freight transportation, declined in December for the first time in 19 months.

Trend: The Freight TSI was essentially stable in December, down slightly from an all-time high after increases for five consecutive months. Fourth quarter 2014 represented the second consecutive quarter of rapid growth after stability in the first half of the year. The third and fourth quarters of 2014 were the first two consecutive quarters with growth above 1.5% since the first quarter of 2010. Fourth-quarter growth (1.7 percent) was slower than growth in the third quarter (2.4 percent). After dipping to 94.6 in April 2009, the index rose 30.9 percent in the succeeding 68 months. For additional historical data, go to TSI data

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in December 2014 (123.8) were 30.9 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.6). The December 2014 level was below the historic peak reached in November 2014 (123.9).

Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were up 4.2 percent in December compared to the end of 2013 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 21.8 percent in the five years from the post-recession level of December 2009 and are up 11.4 percent in the 10 years from December 2004 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: December 2014 freight shipments were up 4.2 percent from December 2013 (Tables 4, 5).

4th quarter changes: The Freight TSI rose 0.1 percent in the 1st quarter, fell 0.1 percent in the 2nd quarter, rose 2.4 percent in the 3rd quarter, and rose 1.7 percent in the 4th quarter of 2014 (Table 10).  

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 January 2015 index is scheduled for March 11.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.4 percent in December from its November level (Table 6).  The Passenger TSI December 2014 level of 119.4 was 1.3 percent above the December 2013 level (Table 7). The index is up 8.1 percent in five years and up 12.1 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.

Combined Index: The combined freight and passenger TSI rose 0.1 percent in December from its November level (Table 8). The combined TSI December 2014 level of 122.6 was 3.3 percent above the December 2013 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 17.5 percent in five years and up 11.4 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 month’s 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 June 2014

Percent Change from Previous Month

(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

  Freight Passenger Combined
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
June 118.9 -1.3 119.3 -0.5 119.1 -1.1
July 120.9 1.7 119.7 0.4 120.6 1.3
August 121.2 0.2 119.9 0.1 120.9 0.2
September 121.8 0.5 119.6 -0.3 121.2 0.3
October 122.5 0.6 120.3 0.6 121.9 0.6
November 123.9 1.1 118.9 -1.1 122.5 0.4
December 123.8 0.0 119.4 0.4 122.6 0.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2011-2014

Percent change from previous month

  2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change 2014 % Change
January 1.2 -3.3 0.9 -2.3
February -1.1 0.2 0.8 0.8
March 1.1 -0.9 0.3 1.6
April 0.0 0.7 -0.7 0.4
May -1.7 0.9 1.1 0.8
June 1.6 0.8 0.4 -1.3
July 0.0 -0.2 0.1 1.7
August 0.5 -0.6 0.5 0.2
September 0.5 -0.1 0.1 0.5
October 0.4 -1.9 -0.2 0.6
November 0.0 1.5 2.3 1.1
December 3.4 0.9 -0.4 0.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2011-2014

  2011 2012 2013 2014
January 110.3 111.7 114.0 116.1
February 109.1 111.9 114.9 117.1
March 110.2 110.8 115.2 119.0
April 110.2 111.6 114.4 119.5
May 108.3 112.5 115.6 120.4
June 110.1 113.4 116.1 118.9
July 110.1 113.1 116.1 120.9
August 110.7 112.4 116.7 121.2
September 111.3 112.4 116.9 121.8
October 111.7 110.3 116.7 122.5
November 111.7 111.9 119.3 123.9
December 115.5 112.9 118.9 123.8

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2005-2014

Percent change to December from December of the previous year

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2005 0.9 2.1 1.3
2006 -1.4 4.5 0.3
2007 0.2 2.3 0.8
2008 -9.5 -5.1 -8.3
2009 1.4 0.1 0.9
2010 7.3 2.5 5.8
2011 6.0 2.2 4.8
2012 -2.2 0.4 -1.5
2013 5.2 1.4 4.1
2014 4.2 1.3 3.3

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the December Freight TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  December Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2005 112.2 0.9
2006 110.6 -1.4
2007 110.8 0.2
2008 100.3 -9.5
2009 101.6 1.4
2010 109.0 7.3
2011 115.5 6.0
2012 112.9 -2.2
2013 118.9 5.2
2014 123.8 4.2

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 2014 (December to December)

Since December . . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to December 2014 Passenger TSI Percent change to December 2014 Combined TSI Percent change to December 2014
2013 1 4.2 1.3 3.3
2012 2 9.6 2.7 7.5
2011 3 7.2 3.1 6.0
2010 4 13.6 5.4 11.1
2009 5 21.8 8.1 17.5
2008 6 23.5 8.2 18.6
2007 7 11.7 2.7 8.8
2006 8 11.9 5.1 9.7
2005 9 10.4 9.8 10.0
2004 10 11.4 12.1 11.4

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2011-2014

Percent change from previous month

  2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change 2014 % Change
January -0.1 -0.7 0.3 -0.9
February -1.2 1.7 0.0 0.0
March 1.6 -0.9 -0.7 2.0
April 0.2 -0.3 1.0 0.1
May 1.0 -0.6 -0.1 0.6
June -0.4 0.2 0.7 -0.5
July 0.9 -0.3 -0.9 0.4
August -2.9 0.8 0.6 0.1
September 2.9 0.0 -0.2 -0.3
October 0.1 -1.8 0.4 0.6
November -0.1 1.8 0.5 -1.1
December 0.5 0.6 -0.3 0.4

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the December Passenger TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  December Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2005 108.8 2.1
2006 113.7 4.5
2007 116.3 2.3
2008 110.4 -5.1
2009 110.5 0.1
2010 113.3 2.5
2011 115.8 2.2
2012 116.3 0.4
2013 118.0 1.4
2014 119.4 1.3

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2011-2014

Percent change from previous month

  2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change 2014 % Change
January 0.8 -2.6 0.7 -1.9
February -1.2 0.6 0.5 0.6
March 1.2 -0.9 0.0 1.8
April 0.0 0.4 -0.2 0.3
May -0.9 0.4 0.7 0.7
June 1.0 0.6 0.5 -1.1
July 0.3 -0.2 -0.2 1.3
August -0.5 -0.2 0.5 0.2
September 1.2 -0.1 0.1 0.3
October 0.3 -1.9 0.0 0.6
November 0.0 1.6 1.7 0.4
December 2.5 0.8 -0.4 0.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the December Combined TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  December Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2005 111.4 1.3
2006 111.8 0.3
2007 112.7 0.8
2008 103.3 -8.3
2009 104.3 0.9
2010 110.4 5.8
2011 115.7 4.8
2012 114.0 -1.5
2013 118.7 4.1
2014 122.6 3.3

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 10: Freight Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2005-2014

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

Year 1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth 2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth 3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth 4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2005 0.9 -0.5 -0.2 0.7
2006 -0.2 0.9 0.0 -2.1
2007 1.1 -1.9 -0.2 1.1
2008 -0.7 -0.1 -2.4 -6.5
2009 -4.4 0.1 3.5 2.3
2010 3.5 1.0 0.7 1.9
2011 1.1 -0.1 1.1 3.8
2012 -4.1 2.3 -0.9 0.5
2013 2.0 0.8 0.7 1.7
2014 0.1 -0.1 2.4 1.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 11: Passenger Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2005-2014

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

Year 1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth 2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth 3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth 4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2005 1.2 0.8 1.5 -1.5
2006 2.1 -0.1 -0.2 2.6
2007 2.6 0.1 0.7 -1.0
2008 0.2 -0.1 -3.7 -1.6
2009 -1.7 0.0 0.9 0.8
2010 0.2 1.0 1.3 0.0
2011 0.2 0.7 0.8 0.5
2012 0.0 -0.6 0.5 0.5
2013 -0.4 1.6 -0.4 0.6
2014 1.0 0.1 0.2 -0.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 12: Combined Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2005-2014

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

Year 1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth 2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth 3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth 4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2005 1.0 -0.1 0.3 0.1
2006 0.4 0.6 0.0 -0.7
2007 1.5 -1.3 0.1 0.5
2008 -0.5 -0.1 -2.8 -5.1
2009 -3.6 0.1 2.7 1.9
2010 2.5 1.0 0.9 1.3
2011 0.8 0.1 1.0 2.8
2012 -2.8 1.4 -0.5 0.5
2013 1.3 1.0 0.4 1.4
2014 0.4 -0.01 1.8 1.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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.