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Freight Shipments Fell 1.2% in April from March

Press Release Number: 
BTS 27-13
Date: 
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

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

Freight Shipments Fell 1.2% in April from March

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 fell 1.2 percent in April from March, declining after five consecutive monthly increases, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The April 2013 index level (112.4) was 18.5 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, 2A).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in April measured by the Freight TSI (112.4) was 2.4 percent below the all-time high level of 115.2 in December 2011 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

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.

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.

Analysis: The 1.2% decline in freight transportation was driven by declines in shipments by water, pipeline shipments, and rail intermodal. Waterborne freight reductions in April were partially due to floods and barge accidents that interfered with river operations.  Trucking was stable in April on a seasonally adjusted basis. The stability in trucking, the decline in rail intermodal, and the decline in the overall Freight TSI were consistent with a slight decline in manufacturing output, and a larger decline in housing that took place in April.

Trend: Even with the April decrease to 112.4, the index has remained above its 2012 range for four consecutive months. The April level is a return to the level of January 2013, prior to increases in February and March. The April index was still higher than the index had been during any month between April 2009 and the beginning of 2013 except for December 2011, when it reached the all-time high. After dipping to 94.8 in April 2009, the index rose 18.5 percent in the succeeding 48 months. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in April 2013 (112.4) were 18.5 percent higher than the all-time low in April 2009 during the recession (94.8). The April 2013 level is down 2.4 percent from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (115.2).

Year-to-date: Freight shipments measured by the index were up 0.2 percent in April compared to the end of 2012 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 1.1 percent in the five years from the recession level of April 2008 and are up 8.5 percent in the 10 years from April 2003 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: April 2013 freight shipments were up 1.2 percent from April 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 May 2013 index is scheduled for July 2013.

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 passengers rose 0.1 percent in April from its March level (Table 6).  The Passenger TSI April 2013 level of 116.9 was 0.8 percent above the April 2012 level (Table 7). The index is up 0.4 percent in five years and up 25.6 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 fell 0.8 percent in April from its March level (Table 8). The combined TSI April 2013 level of 113.7 was 1.1 percent above the April 2012 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 0.8 percent in five years and up 13.0 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.    

 

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Since October 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
October 108.5 -2.4 114.1 -2.1 110.1 -2.3
November 110.8 2.1 114.8 0.6 112.0 1.7
December 112.2 1.2 116.0 1.0 113.3 1.2
January 112.4 0.2 116.1 0.1 113.5 0.2
February 113.2 0.6 116.0 -0.1 114.0 0.4
March 113.8 0.6 116.8 0.7 114.7 0.6
April 112.4 -1.2 116.9 0.1 113.7 -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 1.1 -3.5 0.2
February 1.6 -1.7 -0.1 0.6
March 0.0 1.5 -0.5 0.6
April 0.6 -0.6 0.6 -1.2
May 0.7 -2.0 0.5  
June -0.4 2.0 0.1  
July 0.6 0.1 -0.2  
August -0.3 0.7 -0.5  
September 1.1 0.9 0.2  
October 0.5 0.0 -2.4  
November -0.6 0.1 2.1  
December 2.0 4.0 1.2  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

  2010 2011 2012 2013
January 102.4 109.6 111.1 112.4
February 104.0 107.7 111.0 113.2
March 104.0 109.3 110.5 113.8
April 104.7 108.7 111.1 112.4
May 105.4 106.6 111.6  
June 105.0 108.7 111.8  
July 105.7 108.9 111.5  
August 105.3 109.6 111.0  
September 106.5 110.6 111.2  
October 107.0 110.6 108.5  
November 106.3 110.8 110.8  
December 108.5 115.2 112.2  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change to April from December of the previous year

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2004 2.5 3.3 2.8
2005 1.8 1.3 1.7
2006 -0.6 2.3 0.2
2007 0.0 2.3 0.6
2008 0.3 0.1 0.2
2009 -5.7 0.3 -4.0
2010 2.9 0.3 2.1
2011 0.2 1.4 0.6
2012 -3.5 -0.2 -2.6
2013 0.2 0.8 0.4

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the April Freight TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  April Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 110.7 6.8
2005 113.0 2.1
2006 111.4 -1.4
2007 110.4 -0.9
2008 111.1 0.7
2009 94.8 -14.7
2010 104.7 10.4
2011 108.7 3.9
2012 111.1 2.2
2013 112.4 1.2

OURCE: 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 (April to April)

Since April . . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to April 2013 Passenger TSI Percent change to April 2013 Combined TSI Percent change to April 2013
2012 1 1.2 0.8 1.1
2011 2 3.4 2.0 3.0
2010 3 7.4 5.5 6.8
2009 4 18.5 6.0 14.7
2008 5 1.1 0.4 0.8
2007 6 1.8 0.5 1.4
2006 7 0.9 4.7 1.8
2005 8 -0.5 7.8 1.6
2004 9 1.6 12.4 4.4
2003 10 8.5 25.6 13.0

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 -2.2 -1.2 1.5 -0.1
March 2.6 0.8 -0.3 0.7
April -0.4 1.4 -0.5 0.1
May 0.6 0.7 0.0  
June 1.0 -0.5 -0.1  
July 0.2 0.8 -0.9  
August 0.6 -1.4 1.2  
September 0.1 1.3 0.2  
October 1.7 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 April Passenger TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  April Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 104.1 11.8
2005 108.5 4.2
2006 111.6 2.9
2007 116.4 4.2
2008 116.5 0.1
2009 110.3 -5.3
2010 110.8 0.4
2011 114.7 3.5
2012 116.0 1.2
2013 116.9 0.8

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 0.4 -1.6 0.4 0.4
March 0.8 1.3 -0.4 0.6
April 0.3 0.0 0.2 -0.8
May 0.7 -1.2 0.4  
June 0.1 1.3 0.1  
July 0.5 0.3 -0.4  
August -0.1 0.1 0.0  
September 0.8 1.0 0.2  
October 0.8 0.0 -2.3  
November -0.7 0.1 1.7  
December 1.1 3.0 1.2  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the April Combined TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  April Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 109.0 8.3
2005 111.9 2.7
2006 111.7 -0.2
2007 112.2 0.5
2008 112.8 0.5
2009 99.1 -12.1
2010 106.4 7.3
2011 110.4 3.8
2012 112.5 1.9
2013 113.7 1.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.