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Freight Shipments Fell 0.7% in October from September

Press Release Number: 
BTS 56-13
Date: 
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

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

Excel | Table Version

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, October 2008 - October 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 fell 0.7 percent in October from September, the first monthly decline after three months of increases, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The October 2013 index level (114.3) was 20.5 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in October measured by the Freight TSI (114.3) was 0.7 percent below the all-time high level of 115.1 in September 2013 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The September index was revised to 115.1 from 115.8 in last month’s release but still remains an all-time high.  Monthly numbers for May through August were revised down slightly as were August and September 2012.  October and November 2012 were revised up.

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.

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: The 0.7 percent decrease in October freight transportation was driven by decreases in air freight, rail carloads and particularly in trucking. The decrease follows three months of increases during the July through September quarter. During the quarter, Revised Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 3.6 percent was heavily driven by an increase in private inventories – which may have accounted for much of the TSI growth. The Census Bureau’s report on manufacturers shows that increase in inventories of manufacturers continued in October.

Trend: The Freight TSI remained above its 2012 range for the 10th month in a row. Beginning with January, every month in 2013 has exceeded the high point of 2012, 112.2 reached in December. The September 2013 level was the highest all-time level for the index.  After dipping to 94.8 in April 2009, the index rose 22.1 percent in the succeeding 53 months. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in October 2013 (114.3) were 20.5 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.8). The October 2013 level is down 0.7 percent from the historic peak reached in September 2013 (115.1).

Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were up 2.0 percent in October compared to the end of 2012 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 6.8 percent in the five years from the recession level of October 2008 and are up 7.5 percent in the 10 years from October 2003 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: October 2013 freight shipments were up 5.3 percent from October 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 November 2013 index is scheduled for Jan. 8.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.3 percent in October from its September level (Table 6).  The Passenger TSI October 2013 level of 117.7 was 3.0 percent above the October 2012 level (Table 7). The index is up 4.2 percent in five years and up 20.4 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 0.4 percent in October from its September level (Table 8). The combined TSI October 2013 level of 115.3 was 4.6 percent above the October 2012 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 5.9 percent in five years and up 10.9 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 month’s data are added.    

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 April 2013

Percent Change from Previous Month

(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

  Freight Passenger Combined
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
April 112.9 -1.0 117.6 1.2 114.2 -0.3
May 114.0 1.0 117.7 0.0 115.1 0.7
June 113.9 -0.1 117.8 0.1 115.0 0.0
July 114.2 0.3 117.4 -0.4 115.1 0.1
August 114.7 0.4 117.9 0.4 115.6 0.4
September 115.1 0.4 117.4 -0.4 115.8 0.1
October 114.3 -0.7 117.7 0.3 115.3 -0.4

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 % Change 2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change
January 0.6 1.1 -3.4 0.4
February 1.6 -1.7 0.0 0.6
March 0.0 1.6 -0.5 0.7
April 0.7 -0.5 0.5 -1.0
May 0.5 -2.3 0.1 1.0
June -0.2 2.1 0.4 -0.1
July 0.6 0.2 -0.2 0.3
August -0.3 0.7 -0.5 0.4
September 0.8 0.6 0.0 0.4
October 0.7 0.3 -2.1 -0.7
November -0.4 0.2 2.1  
December 1.8 3.8 1.1  

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 104.0 107.7 111.2 113.2
March 104.0 109.4 110.6 114.0
April 104.8 108.9 111.2 112.9
May 105.3 106.4 111.3 114.0
June 105.1 108.7 111.7 113.9
July 105.7 108.9 111.5 114.2
August 105.4 109.7 110.9 114.7
September 106.2 110.3 110.9 115.1
October 106.9 110.7 108.6 114.3
November 106.5 110.9 110.9  
December 108.4 115.1 112.1  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change to October from December of the previous year

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2004 3.1 6.1 4.0
2005 0.3 0.9 0.5
2006 -1.1 2.5 -0.2
2007 0.1 2.2 0.7
2008 -3.4 -3.1 -3.3
2009 -1.8 -0.3 -1.3
2010 5.0 4.6 4.9
2011 2.1 2.2 2.2
2012 -5.6 -1.8 -4.6
2013 2.0 1.3 1.8

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the October Freight TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  October Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 111.4 4.7
2005 111.3 0.0
2006 110.9 -0.4
2007 110.6 -0.3
2008 107.1 -3.1
2009 98.7 -7.8
2010 106.9 8.3
2011 110.7 3.5
2012 108.6 -1.9
2013 114.3 5.3

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 (October to October)

Since October . . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to October 2013 Passenger TSI Percent change to October 2013 Combined TSI Percent change to October 2013
2012 1 5.3 3.0 4.6
2011 2 3.3 1.6 2.8
2010 3 6.9 1.6 5.4
2009 4 15.8 6.8 13.1
2008 5 6.8 4.2 5.9
2007 6 3.4 1.0 2.6
2006 7 3.1 5.2 3.6
2005 8 2.7 9.1 4.3
2004 9 2.7 10.4 4.6
2003 10 7.5 20.4 10.9

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change from previous month

  2010 % Change 2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change
January 0.4 0.4 -1.1 0.5
February -2.5 -1.4 1.5 -0.3
March 2.9 1.8 -0.1 -0.2
April -0.5 0.0 -0.4 1.2
May 0.5 1.1 -0.4 0.0
June 0.9 -0.6 0.0 0.1
July 0.1 0.9 -0.6 -0.4
August -0.1 -2.2 1.2 0.4
September 1.4 2.5 -0.2 -0.4
October 1.5 -0.1 -1.6 0.3
November -1.1 0.0 0.6  
December -1.1 0.5 1.0  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the October Passenger TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  October Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 106.6 9.1
2005 107.8 1.2
2006 111.8 3.7
2007 116.5 4.2
2008 112.9 -3.1
2009 110.2 -2.4
2010 115.8 5.1
2011 115.8 0.0
2012 114.2 -1.3
2013 117.7 3.0

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 % Change 2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change
January 0.5 0.9 -2.8 0.4
February 0.4 -1.6 0.4 0.3
March 0.9 1.6 -0.4 0.4
April 0.4 -0.3 0.3 -0.3
May 0.5 -1.3 0.0 0.7
June 0.1 1.3 0.3 0.0
July 0.4 0.4 -0.3 0.1
August -0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.4
September 1.0 1.1 -0.1 0.1
October 0.9 0.2 -2.0 -0.4
November -0.6 0.1 1.7  
December 0.9 2.8 1.1  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

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

Percent change in the October Combined TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  October Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2004 110.2 6.0
2005 110.5 0.3
2006 111.3 0.7
2007 112.3 0.9
2008 108.8 -3.1
2009 101.9 -6.3
2010 109.4 7.3
2011 112.1 2.5
2012 110.2 -1.7
2013 115.3 4.6

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.