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May 2015 North American Freight Numbers

Press Release Number: 
BTS 35-15
Date: 
Thursday, July 30, 2015
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: May 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $92.7 billion in May 2015 as all modes carried less U.S.-NAFTA freight than in May 2014, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1, Table 1). Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by all modes decreased by 10.8 percent. Large decreases in the value of NAFTA trade by pipeline and vessel in May were due to the reduced unit price of mineral fuel shipments. A recession in Canada likely contributed to the double digit decrease of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

Freight by Mode

In May 2015 compared to May 2014, the value of commodities moving by rail decreased by 7.4 percent, truck by 5.9 percent and air by 2.4 percent (Figure 1, Table 2). Vessel freight values decreased by 22.4 percent and pipeline freight decreased by 45.4 percent mainly due to the lower unit price of mineral fuel shipments.

Trucks carried 63.2 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and are the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $28.8 billion of the $48.3 billion of imports (59.7 percent) and $29.7 billion of the $44.4 billion of exports (67.0 percent) (Table 2).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.8 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 7.6 percent; pipeline, 4.8 percent; and air, 3.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.8 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: May 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-Canada freight totaled $48.9 billion in May 2015, down 15.2 percent from May 2014, as all modes of transportation carried a lower value of U.S.-Canada freight than a year earlier. The Bank of Canada reported this month that Canada is in a recession after two consecutive quarters of negative growth in real Gross Domestic Product. Lower mineral fuel prices contributed to a year-over-year decrease in the value of rail freight, down 12.9 percent.

Mineral fuels are a large share of freight carried by vessel, which was down 9.4 percent year-over-year, and pipeline, down 46.5 percent (Figure 2, Table 3). The tonnage of mineral fuels imported by vessel increased 15.8 percent, somewhat offsetting the large price decline of the commodity.

Trucks carried 57.3 percent of the $48.9 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail, 16.9 percent; pipeline, 8.5 percent; vessel, 6.0 percent; and air, 4.4 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.7 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: May 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $43.8 billion in May 2015, down 5.3 percent from May 2014, as two out of five transportation modes – air and rail – carried more U.S.-Mexico freight than in May 2014. Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-Mexico air freight rose 2.7 percent, the largest percentage increase of any mode. Freight carried by rail increased by 0.8 percent. Truck freight decreased by 1.9 percent. Pipeline freight decreased by 25.2 percent and vessel freight decreased by 29.7 percent, mainly due to lower mineral fuel prices (Figure 3, Table 4).

Trucks carried 69.8 percent of the $43.8 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail, 14.7 percent; vessel, 9.4 percent; air, 3.0 percent; and pipeline, 0.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.2 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 4).

Commodities

In May 2015, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was vehicles and parts, of which $5.0 billion, or 55.3 percent, moved by truck and $3.8 billion, or 42.1 percent, moved by rail (Figure 4). Vehicles and parts replaced mineral fuels as the top commodity in March 2015 and continues to be the top commodity for a third straight month. Mineral fuels had been the top commodity by value moved between the U.S. and Canada for 28 consecutive months (November 2012 - February 2015). This change is due, in large part, to a decline in the unit price of mineral fuels in recent months. The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in May 2015 was electrical machinery, of which $7.5 billion, or 92.0 percent, moved by truck and $0.4 billion, or 4.8 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 more state, port, or commodity data. BTS has scheduled the release of June TransBorder numbers for Aug. 27.

 

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   10.1  
July 93,080 101,075   8.6  
August 96,426 100,624   4.4  
September 94,465 102,245   8.2  
October 103,140 108,243   4.9  
November 96,136 96,252   0.1  
December 90,906 95,811   5.4  
Year-to-date 473,115 485,444 457,086 2.6 -5.8
Annual 1,140,770 1,192,671   4.5  

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

Note: Numbers may 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   May 2014 May 2015 Percent Change May 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 55,539 48,311 -13.0
Exports 48,403 44,396 -8.3
Total 103,942 92,707 -10.8
All Surface Modes Imports 47,141 41,890 -11.1
Exports 39,123 35,839 -8.4
Total 86,264 77,729 -9.9
Truck Imports 30,376 28,845 -5.0
Exports 31,847 29,731 -6.6
Total 62,223 58,576 -5.9
Rail Imports 9,986 9,404 -5.8
Exports 5,853 5,269 -10.0
Total 15,838 14,673 -7.4
Pipeline Imports 6,779 3,641 -46.3
Exports 1,423 839 -41.1
Total 8,202 4,480 -45.4
Vessel Imports 5,163 3,613 -30.0
Exports 3,912 3,426 -12.4
Total 9,075 7,039 -22.4
Air Imports 1,439 1,383 -3.8
Exports 2,105 2,077 -1.3
Total 3,544 3,460 -2.4

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   May 2014 May 2015 Percent Change May 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 30,224 24,120 -20.2
Exports 27,427 24,764 -9.7
Total 57,651 48,884 -15.2
All Surface Modes Imports 26,052 20,761 -20.3
Exports 22,253 19,653 -11.7
Total 48,305 40,414 -16.3
Truck Imports 13,031 11,676 -10.4
Exports 18,036 16,332 -9.4
Total 31,068 28,009 -9.8
Rail Imports 6,261 5,473 -12.6
Exports 3,199 2,770 -13.4
Total 9,460 8,243 -12.9
Pipeline Imports 6,760 3,612 -46.6
Exports 1,018 550 -46.0
Total 7,777 4,162 -46.5
Vessel Imports 1,933 1,503 -22.2
Exports 1,296 1,423 9.8
Total 3,229 2,926 -9.4
Air Imports 858 864 0.6
Exports 1,421 1,298 -8.7
Total 2,279 2,161 -5.2

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, May 2015

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data
NOTE: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

 

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

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   May 2014 May 2015 Percent Change May 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 25,315 24,191 -4.4
Exports 20,976 19,632 -6.4
Total 46,291 43,823 -5.3
All Surface Modes Imports 21,089 21,129 0.2
Exports 16,869 16,187 -4.0
Total 37,958 37,316 -1.7
Truck Imports 17,345 17,168 -1.0
Exports 13,811 13,399 -3.0
Total 31,156 30,568 -1.9
Rail Imports 3,724 3,931 5.6
Exports 2,653 2,499 -5.8
Total 6,378 6,430 0.8
Pipeline Imports 20 29 49.7
Exports 405 289 -28.8
Total 425 318 -25.2
Vessel Imports 3,229 2,110 -34.7
Exports 2,617 2,003 -23.5
Total 5,846 4,113 -29.7
Air Imports 580 520 -10.5
Exports 684 779 13.9
Total 1,264 1,299 2.7

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, May 2015

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data
NOTE: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding