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May 2015 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

Press Release Number: 
BTS 32-15
Date: 
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

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Freight Transportation Services Index, May 2010 - May 2015

Table Version | Excel

Freight Transportation Services Index, May 2010 - May 2015

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, rose 0.8 percent in May from April, seasonally-adjusted, rising after one month of decline, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The May 2015 index level (122.7) was 29.6 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

The level of freight shipments in May measured by the Freight TSI (122.7) was 0.5 percent below the all-time high level of 123.3 in November 2014 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records began in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The April index was revised to 121.7 from 120.4 in last month’s release but remains below the March index. The indexes for December through March were also revised up slightly.

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: There was a large increase in trucking, reversing an April decline. Waterborne also rose along with a smaller increase in pipeline. These increases outweighed declines in air freight, rail carloads, and rail intermodal to produce the 0.8 percent rise in the overall freight index in May. Personal income and employment increased in May, even as the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index and, manufacturers’ shipments declined. Revised data indicates that GDP declined in the first quarter of 2015, when the growth of the freight TSI slowed.  

Trend: In May, the Freight TSI returned to its March level. Since peaking in November 2014, the index has alternated months of increases and decreases that left it still near the all-time high but 0.5 percent lower than in November, and at the same level as in January 2015. After dipping to 94.6 in April 2009, the index rose 29.6 percent in the succeeding 73 months. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in May 2015 (122.7) were 29.6 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.6). The May 2015 level  was 0.5 percent below the historic peak reached in November 2014 (123.3).

Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were virtually unchanged in May compared to the end of 2014 (Table 3)

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 15.4 percent in the five years from the post-recession level of May 2010 and are up 9.2 percent in the 10 years from May 2005 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: May 2015 freight shipments were up 1.7 percent from May 2014 (Tables 4, 5).

The TSI has three seasonally adjusted indexes that measure 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. See Seasonally-Adjusted Transportation Data for numbers for individual modes. TSI includes data from 2000 to the present. Release of the June 2015 index is scheduled for Aug. 12.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers fell less than 0.1 percent in May from its April level (Table 6).  The Passenger TSI May 2015 level of 120.8 was 0.4 percent above the May 2014 level (Table 7). The index is up 8.7 percent in five years and up 11.1 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 0.5 percent in May from its April level (Table 8). The combined TSI May 2015 level of 122.2 was 1.3 percent above the May 2014 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 13.3 percent in five years and up 9.6 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.    

BTS research has shown a clear relationship between economic cycles and the Freight and Passenger Transportation Services Indexes. See a study of this relationship using smoothed and detrended TSI data. Researchers who wish to compare TSI over time with other economic indicators, can use the FRED database, which includes freight, passenger  and combined TSI, and which makes it possible to easily graph TSI alongside the other series in that database. See TSI data on FRED.   

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 November 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
November 123.3 0.7 119.4 -1.1 122.2 0.1
December 122.6 -0.5 121.1 1.4 122.3 0.1
January 122.7 0.1 119.4 -1.4 121.8 -0.4
February 121.0 -1.4 118.3 -0.9 120.3 -1.3
March 122.7 1.4 120.4 1.8 122.1 1.5
April 121.7 -0.8 120.9 0.4 121.5 -0.4
May 122.7 0.8 120.8 0.0 122.2 0.5

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2012-2015

Percent change from previous month

  2012 % Change 2013 % Change 2014 % Change 2015 % Change
January -3.0 1.4 -2.0 0.1
February 0.3 1.1 1.3 -1.4
March -0.8 0.1 1.4 1.4
April 0.6 -0.6 0.6 -0.8
May 0.8 0.9 0.6 0.8
June 0.6 0.2 -1.4  
July -0.1 0.2 2.1  
August -0.7 0.3 -0.3  
September -0.2 0.2 0.6  
October -1.8 -0.2 0.6  
November 1.3 2.0 0.7  
December 0.7 -0.3 -0.5  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2012-2015

  2012 2013 2014 2015
January 111.7 114.0 116.1 122.7
February 112.0 115.3 117.6 121.0
March 111.2 115.5 119.3 122.7
April 111.8 114.8 120.0 121.7
May 112.7 115.8 120.7 122.7
June 113.4 116.0 118.9  
July 113.2 116.2 121.4  
August 112.4 116.6 121.0  
September 112.2 116.8 121.7  
October 110.2 116.6 122.4  
November 111.6 118.9 123.3  
December 112.5 118.5 122.6  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2006-2015

Percent change to May from December of the previous year

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2006 1.1 2.5 1.5
2007 -0.5 4.9 1.1
2008 0.5 0.9 0.6
2009 -5.1 -2.2 -4.3
2010 4.7 0.7 3.4
2011 -0.4 1.3 0.1
2012 -2.2 -0.7 -1.7
2013 3.0 0.7 2.3
2014 1.8 2.0 1.9
2015 0.0 -0.2 -0.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the May Freight TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  May Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2006 113.5 1.0
2007 110.1 -2.9
2008 111.3 1.1
2009 95.1 -14.5
2010 106.3 11.7
2011 108.4 2.0
2012 112.7 3.9
2013 115.8 2.7
2014 120.7 4.2
2015 122.7 1.7

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 2015 (May to May)

Since May . . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to May 2015 Passenger TSI Percent change to May 2015 Combined TSI Percent change to May 2015
2014 1 1.7 0.4 1.3
2013 2 5.9 3.3 5.2
2012 3 8.9 5.1 7.7
2011 4 13.1 5.3 10.7
2010 5 15.4 8.7 13.3
2009 6 28.9 12.0 23.5
2008 7 10.2 3.0 7.8
2007 8 11.4 1.4 8.1
2006 9 8.1 8.3 8.0
2005 10 9.2 11.1 9.6

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2012-2015

Percent change from previous month

  2012 % Change 2013 % Change 2014 % Change 2015 % Change
January -0.6 0.7 -0.4 -1.4
February 1.7 0.0 0.0 -0.9
March -1.0 -0.9 1.7 1.8
April -0.3 1.0 0.0 0.4
May -0.6 -0.1 0.7 0.0
June 0.3 0.7 -0.5  
July -0.3 -0.8 0.3  
August 0.7 0.7 0.1  
September 0.0 -0.2 -0.2  
October -1.9 0.4 0.6  
November 1.8 0.6 -1.1  
December 0.4 -0.5 1.4  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the May Passenger TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  May Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2006 111.6 2.6
2007 119.2 6.8
2008 117.3 -1.6
2009 107.9 -8.1
2010 111.2 3.1
2011 114.8 3.2
2012 114.9 0.1
2013 116.9 1.8
2014 120.3 2.9
2015 120.8 0.4

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2012-2015

Percent change from previous month

  2012 % Change 2013 % Change 2014 % Change 2015 % Change
January -2.3 1.2 -1.5 -0.4
February 0.7 0.8 0.9 -1.3
March -0.8 -0.2 1.5 1.5
April 0.3 -0.1 0.4 -0.4
May 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.5
June 0.5 0.3 -1.2  
July -0.2 -0.1 1.5  
August -0.3 0.4 -0.1  
September -0.1 0.1 0.3  
October -1.8 0.0 0.6  
November 1.4 1.6 0.1  
December 0.6 -0.4 0.1  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the May Combined TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  May Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2006 113.2 1.5
2007 113.0 -0.1
2008 113.3 0.3
2009 98.9 -12.7
2010 107.8 9.0
2011 110.4 2.4
2012 113.4 2.8
2013 116.2 2.4
2014 120.6 3.8
2015 122.2 1.3

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.