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Freight Shipments Rose 1.2% in February from January

Press Release Number: 
BTS 17-13
Date: 
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

bts_17_13.pdf | bts_17_13.xlsx

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

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, February 2008-February 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 February from January, rising for the fourth consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The February 2013 index level (113.9) was 20.1 percent above the April 2009 low during the recession and the highest level since December 2011 (Tables 1, 2A).  

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in February measured by the Freight TSI (113.9) was 1.1 percent below (Table 3) the revised all-time high level of 115.2 in December 2011 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

Beginning with this release, BTS has improved procedures and refined the TSI methodology. As a result there have been revisions 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. The TSI is seasonally adjusted so that trends reflect changes beyond normal monthly fluctuations.

Analysis: The Freight TSI increased for a fourth consecutive month in February 2013, with growth across most freight modes. This increase was consistent with several other indicators pointing to economic growth in February.  

Trend: With the February increase to 113.9, the index has exceeded its 2012 range for two months in a row. With four consecutive monthly increases, the February index was at its second highest level since April 2009 during the recession exceeded only by December 2011. January 2013 was the third highest level since April 2009. After dipping to 94.8 in April 2009, the index rose 20.1 percent in the succeeding 46 months. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in February 2013 (113.9) were 20.1 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recent recession (94.8). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level over the entire history of the TSI since 2000. The February 2013 level is down 1.1 percent from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (115.2).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 2.1 percent in the five years from the recession level of February 2008 and are up 10.0 percent in the 10 years from February 2003 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: February 2013 freight shipments were up 2.7 percent from February 2012 (Tables 4, 5).

The TSI includes two other seasonally-adjusted indexes that measures changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. The other indexes are passenger travel and a combined freight and passenger index. TSI includes data from 2000 to the present. Release of the March 2013 index is scheduled for May 8.

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.

Passenger Index: The TSI for for-hire passenger travel fell 0.1 percent in February from its January level (Table 6).  The Passenger TSI February 2013 level of 115.7 was 0.9 percent below the February 2012 level (Table 7). The index is down 2.0 percent in five years and up 20.6 percent in ten 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 0.8 percent in February from its January level (Table 8). The combined TSI February 2013 level of 114.4 was 1.6 percent above the February 2012 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 0.8 percent in five years and up 12.7 percent in ten 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.    

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Since August 2012

Percent Change from Previous Month

(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

  Freight Passenger Combined
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
August 111.0 -0.4 116.3 1.1 112.5 0.0
September 111.2 0.2 116.5 0.2 112.7 0.2
October 108.4 -2.5 114.1 -2.1 110.0 -2.4
November 110.9 2.3 114.8 0.6 112.0 1.8
December 112.2 1.2 115.9 1.0 113.2 1.1
January 112.6 0.3 115.8 -0.1 113.5 0.2
February 113.9 1.2 115.7 -0.1 114.4 0.8

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 2011 2012 2013
  % Change % Change % Change % Change
January 0.6 1.0 -3.5 0.3
February 1.5 -1.8 -0.2 1.2
March 0.1 1.7 -0.2  
April 0.5 -0.9 0.1  
May 0.6 -2.0 0.5  
June -0.2 2.2 0.4  
July 0.6 0.1 -0.3  
August -0.4 0.7 -0.4  
September 1.1 0.9 0.2  
October 0.5 0.0 -2.5  
November -0.5 0.2 2.3  
December 2.0 3.9 1.2  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

  2010 2011 2012 2013
January 102.4 109.6 111.1 112.6
February 103.9 107.6 111.0 113.9
March 104.1 109.5 110.7  
April 104.6 108.6 110.8  
May 105.3 106.4 111.3  
June 105.0 108.7 111.8  
July 105.7 108.9 111.4  
August 105.3 109.6 111.0  
September 106.5 110.7 111.2  
October 107.0 110.6 108.4  
November 106.4 110.9 110.9  
December 108.5 115.2 112.2  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 3: Annual Change in Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes, 2004-2013

Percent change to February from December of the previous year

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2004 1.2 2.9 1.7
2005 1.8 0.8 1.5
2006 -0.7 0.9 -0.2
2007 -0.2 -0.3 -0.2
2008 0.7 1.5 0.9
       
2009 0.1 0.0 0.1
2010 2.1 -2.1 0.8
2011 -0.8 -1.0 -0.8
2012 -3.7 0.5 -2.5
2013 1.6 -0.2 1.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the February Freight TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  February Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 109.1 5.4
2005 113.0 3.5
2006 111.4 -1.4
2007 110.2 -1.1
2008 111.6 1.2
2009 100.7 -9.8
2010 103.9 3.2
2011 107.6 3.6
2012 111.0 3.1
2013 113.9 2.7

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 2013 (February to February)

Since February . . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to February 2013 Passenger TSI Percent change to February 2013 Combined TSI Percent change to February 2013
2012 1 2.7 -0.9 1.6
2011 2 5.8 3.3 5.1
2010 3 9.6 6.9 8.8
2009 4 13.2 5.1 10.7
2008 5 2.1 -2.0 0.8
2007 6 3.4 2.0 2.9
2006 7 2.2 5.0 2.9
2005 8 0.8 7.2 2.4
2004 9 4.4 11.6 6.2
2003 10 10.0 20.6 12.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change from previous month

  2010 2011 2012 2013
  % Change % Change % Change % Change
January 0.3 0.4 -0.9 -0.1
February -2.4 -1.4 1.4 -0.1
March 3.0 1.1 0.1  
April -0.4 1.4 -0.6  
May 0.5 0.6 0.0  
June 1.0 -0.6 -0.1  
July 0.2 0.8 -0.9  
August 0.6 -1.4 1.1  
September 0.1 1.3 0.2  
October 1.6 0.0 -2.1  
November -1.1 0.0 0.6  
December -1.0 0.6 1.0  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the February Passenger TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  February Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 103.6 8.0
2005 107.9 4.1
2006 110.2 2.1
2007 113.5 3.0
2008 118.1 4.1
2009 110.0 -6.8
2010 108.2 -1.7
2011 112.0 3.5
2012 116.8 4.3
2013 115.7 -0.9

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 2011 2012 2013
  % Change % Change % Change % Change
January 0.5 0.9 -2.8 0.2
February 0.3 -1.7 0.3 0.8
March 1.0 1.5 -0.1  
April 0.2 -0.2 -0.1  
May 0.6 -1.2 0.3  
June 0.1 1.4 0.3  
July 0.5 0.3 -0.5  
August -0.1 0.1 0.0  
September 0.8 1.0 0.2  
October 0.8 0.0 -2.4  
November -0.7 0.1 1.8  
December 1.1 3.0 1.1  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the February Combined TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  February Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 107.8 6.2
2005 111.7 3.7
2006 111.3 -0.4
2007 111.3 0.0
2008 113.5 2.0
2009 103.3 -9.0
2010 105.1 1.7
2011 108.9 3.6
2012 112.6 3.4
2013 114.4 1.6

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, sight seeing services, ferry services, taxi service, private automobile usage, or bicycling and other non-motorized transportation.