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December 2015 North American Freight Numbers

Press Release Number: 
BTS 12-16
Date: 
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

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Figure 1.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode: December 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

Figure 1.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode: December 2014 - 2015

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $86.7 billion in December 2015 as all modes of transportation – air, vessel, pipeline, rail, and trucks – carried a lower total value of freight than a year earlier, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by theU.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1, Table 1). Large decreases in the value of commodities moved by pipeline and vessel in December were due to the reduced unit price of crude oil.

Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by all modes declined by 9.5 percent.

Freight by Mode

In December 2015 compared to December 2014, the value of commodities moving by truck decreased by 3.1 percent, while the value of air freight decreased by 3.5 percent and rail by 9.3 percent (Figure 1, Table 2). Vessel freight value decreased 29.9 percent and pipeline freight decreased 47.4 percent mainly due to the lower unit price of crude oil (a component of mineral fuels), which comprises a large share of the commodities carried by these modes. Average monthly prices for crude petroleum and refined fuel are available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Trucks carried 63.4 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and continue to be the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $28.0 billion of the $46.8 billion of imports (60.0 percent) and $26.9 billion of the $40.0 billion of exports (67.3 percent) (Table 2).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.1 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 6.4 percent; pipeline, 4.7 percent; and air, 4.3 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.2 percent of the total U.S.-NAFTA freight flows (Table 2).

U.S.-Canada Freight

Figure 2.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: December 2014 - 2015

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Figure 2.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: December 2014 - 2015

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-Canada freight totaled $45.0 billion in December 2015, down 15.2 percent from December 2014, as all modes of transportation carried a lower value of U.S.-Canada freight than a year earlier.

Lower crude oil prices contributed to a year-over-year decrease in the value of freight moved between the U.S. and Canada. Crude oil is a large share of freight carried by vessel and pipeline, which were down 35.2 percent and 47.4 percent respectively year-over-year (Figure 2, Table 3).

Trucks carried 57.3 percent of the $45.0 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail, 15.9 percent; pipeline, 8.4 percent; air, 4.9 percent; and vessel, 4.5 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.6 percent of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows (Table 3).

U.S.-Mexico Freight

Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: December 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: December 2014 - 2015

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $41.7 billion in December 2015, down 2.4 percent from December 2014, as two out of the five transportation modes – air and truck – carried more U.S.-Mexico freight value than in December 2014. Freight carried by truck increased by 1.3 percent, led by shipments of electrical machinery, which were up 7.4 percent.  Air freight value rose 2.0 percent while rail freight value declined 0.1 percent. Pipeline freight value decreased by 46.5 percent and vessel freight value decreased by 26.4 percent mainly due to lower crude oil prices (Figure 3, Table 4).

Trucks carried 70.0 percent of the $41.7 billion of the value of freight transported to and from Mexico, followed by rail, 14.3 percent; vessel, 8.5 percent; air, 3.7 percent; and pipeline, 0.6 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.8 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 4).

Commodities
In December 2015, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada by all modes was vehicles and parts, of which $4.9 billion, or 56.7 percent, moved by truck and $3.5 billion, or 41.1 percent, moved by rail (Figure 4). The top commodity category for all modes transported between the U.S. and Mexico in December 2015 was electrical machinery, of which $7.4 billion, or 91.1 percent, moved by truck and $0.5 billion, or 5.6 percent, moved by air (Figure 5).

Reporting Notes
BTS press releases and the BTS website define surface transportation modes as truck, rail and pipeline. See North American TransBorder Freight Data on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004. The category of all modes of transportation cited in the following tables includes freight movements by truck, rail, vessel, pipeline, air, other and unknown modes of transport. 

Data in this press release are not seasonally adjusted and are not adjusted for inflation. Additional summary data adjusted for inflation and exchange rates can be found on the BTS website under TransBorder Indexed Freight Flow Data. The BLS indexes used in the adjustments for inflation and exchange rates may be revised in each of the three months after original publication. For more information, see TransBorder Press Releases for previous press releases and summary tables. See TransBorder Freight Data for data from previous months, and for additional state, port, and commodity data. BTS has scheduled the release of January TransBorder numbers for March 24.

 

Table 1. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows

(millions of current dollars)

Month 2013 2014 2015 Percent Change 2013-2014 Percent Change 2014-2015
January 90,766 90,326 89,258 -0.5 -1.2
February 88,894 89,557 85,723 0.7 -4.3
March 95,757 101,478 96,070 6.0 -5.3
April 98,956 100,141 93,327 1.2 -6.8
May 98,742 103,942 92,707 5.3 -10.8
June 93,502 102,978 99,030 10.1 -3.8
July 93,080 101,075 92,995 8.6 -8.0
August 96,426 100,624 92,442 4.4 -8.1
September 94,465 102,245 93,246 8.2 -8.8
October 103,140 108,243 96,624 4.9 -10.7
November 96,136 96,252 88,154 0.1 -8.4
December 90,906 95,811 86,748 5.4 -9.5
Annual 1,140,770 1,192,671 1,106,325 4.5 -7.2

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Note: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 2. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   December 2014 December 2015 Percent Change December 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 52,516 46,750 -11.0
Exports 43,295 39,998 -7.6
Total 95,811 86,748 -9.5
All Surface Modes Imports 44,256 40,380 -8.8
Exports 34,640 31,764 -8.3
Total 78,895 72,144 -8.6
Truck Imports 28,374 28,049 -1.1
Exports 28,380 26,937 -5.1
Total 56,754 54,987 -3.1
Rail Imports 9,416 8,950 -5.0
Exports 5,057 4,170 -17.5
Total 14,473 13,120 -9.3
Pipeline Imports 6,465 3,381 -47.7
Exports 1,203 656 -45.5
Total 7,668 4,037 -47.4
Vessel Imports 4,492 2,761 -38.5
Exports 3,444 2,806 -18.5
Total 7,936 5,567 -29.9
Air Imports 1,613 1,449 -10.2
Exports 2,270 2,299 1.3
Total 3,883 3,748 -3.5

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

 

Table 3. Value of Monthly U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   December 2014 December 2015 Percent Change December 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 28,654 23,589 -17.7
Exports 24,406 21,418 -12.2
Total 53,060 45,006 -15.2
All Surface Modes Imports 24,299 19,982 -17.8
Exports 19,327 16,743 -13.4
Total 43,626 36,726 -15.8
Truck Imports 12,069 11,395 -5.6
Exports 15,831 14,374 -9.2
Total 27,900 25,770 -7.6
Rail Imports 5,779 5,228 -9.5
Exports 2,726 1,930 -29.2
Total 8,505 7,158 -15.8
Pipeline Imports 6,451 3,359 -47.9
Exports 770 438 -43.1
Total 7,221 3,798 -47.4
Vessel Imports 1,666 1,094 -34.3
Exports 1,447 922 -36.3
Total 3,112 2,016 -35.2
Air Imports 920 899 -2.3
Exports 1,458 1,315 -9.8
Total 2,379 2,214 -6.9

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

 

Figure 4. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, December 2015

Table Version | Excel

Figure 4. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, December 2015

 

Table 4. Value of Monthly U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   December 2014 December 2015 Percent Change December 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 23,862 23,161 -2.9
Exports 18,889 18,581 -1.6
Total 42,751 41,742 -2.4
All Surface Modes Imports 19,957 20,398 2.2
Exports 15,313 15,020 -1.9
Total 35,269 35,418 0.4
Truck Imports 16,305 16,654 2.1
Exports 12,550 12,563 0.1
Total 28,855 29,217 1.3
Rail Imports 3,637 3,722 2.3
Exports 2,331 2,240 -3.9
Total 5,968 5,962 -0.1
Pipeline Imports 14 22 53.4
Exports 433 217 -49.7
Total 447 239 -46.5
Vessel Imports 2,827 1,667 -41.0
Exports 1,997 1,884 -5.7
Total 4,824 3,550 -26.4
Air Imports 693 550 -20.6
Exports 812 985 21.3
Total 1,505 1,535 2.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

 

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, December 2015

(billions of current dollars)

Table Version | Excel

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, December 2015