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Freight Shipments Fell 1.0% in April from March

Freight Shipments Fell 1.0% in April from March

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BTS 29-11
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Freight Transportation Services Index, May 2009-Apr 2011

Table Version | Excel | CSV

Freight Transportation Services Index, May 2009-Apr 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry declined 1.0 percent in April from March, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics' (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today (Table 1). The April decrease followed a rise in March.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that shipments measured by the Freight TSI rose 14.0 percent over the last 24 months, starting in May 2009, after declining 15.7 percent in the previous 15 months beginning in February 2008.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments in ton-miles, which are then 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.

Recent trend: Freight shipments have increased in 17 of the last 24 months (Table 2). In April 2011, freight shipments returned to about the same level as September 2008 when the amount of freight shipped was early in its decline (Table 2A). For additional historic data, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml

Year-to-date: For the first four months of 2011, freight shipments measured by the index were up 0.6 percent (Table 3).

2010 final data: For the full year 2010, freight shipments increased 6.2 percent, revised from 6.4 percent reported in previous releases (Table 4A). For the fourth quarter of 2010, freight shipments increased 1.9 percent, revised from 2.1 percent (Table 10).

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in April (107.5 on the index) rose 14.0 percent from the recent low in April 2009 (94.3). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3). The April 2011 level is down 5.1 percent from the historic freight shipment peak reached in January 2005 (113.3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are down 2.8 percent in the five years from April 2006. Shipments are up 9.2 percent in the 10 years from April 2001 despite recent declines (Table 5).

Same month of previous year: Although freight shipments rose 3.7 percent from April 2010 to April 2011, they remain below the early recession level of April 2008 (110.3) and the recent high for the month of April (112.2) reached in 2005 (Table 4).

The TSI is a seasonally adjusted index that measures changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. It includes historic data from 1990 to the present.  Release of the May index is scheduled for July 13.

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 2011 level of 113.1 was 1.9 percent above the April 2010 level (Table 7). The index is up 1.6 percent in five years and up 11.5 percent in 10 years (Table 5).

The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in travel conducted in 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 0.7 percent in April from its March level (Table 8). The combined TSI April 2011 level of 109.0 was 3.2 percent higher than the April 2010 level (Table 9). The combined index is down 1.6 percent in five years and up 9.6 percent in 10 years despite recent declines (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: TSI numbers for December (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The December Freight TSI is 106.9, revised from the 107.1 reported in last month's release. The December Passenger TSI is 113.3, revised from 112.8. The December Combined TSI is 108.6, unchanged from 108.6. The TSI for January, February, March and April are preliminary.

TSI revision policy: TSI is updated monthly with the latest four months' index numbers considered preliminary. Each month BTS releases the latest preliminary TSI, and replaces the oldest preliminary TSI with a revised TSI. More information about the monthly revision policy, is available at http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml

More information about the comprehensive revision conducted with the March release is provided under 2011 Comprehensive Revision at http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes since October 2010
Percent Change by Month
(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  Freight Passenger Combined
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
October 105.2 0.2 114.7 0.9 107.7 0.4
November 104.4 -0.7 114.4 -0.3 107.0 -0.6
DecemberR 106.9 2.4 113.3 -1.0 108.6 1.5
JanuaryP 108.1 1.1 113.9 0.6 109.6 1.0
FebruaryP 106.5 -1.5 112.9 -1.0 108.2 -1.3
MarchP 108.6 1.9 113.1 0.2 109.7 1.4
AprilP 107.5 -1.0 113.1 0.1 109.0 -0.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2008-2011
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2008 % Growth 2009 % Growth 2010 % Growth 2011 % Growth
January 1.8 -2.4 0.5 (P) 1.1
February -0.2 2.8 1.1 (P) -1.5
March -1.7 -4.0 1.2 (P) 1.9
April 0.6 -1.6 0.1 (P) -1.0
May -0.1 0.3 0.5  
June -0.4 1.0 -0.1  
July 0.2 1.6 0.3  
August -1.7 1.5 -0.4  
September -1.0 -0.5 1.1  
October -1.1 -0.7 0.2  
November -2.5 2.9 -0.7  
December -3.6 0.6 (R) 2.4  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2008-2011

Excel | CSV

  2008 2009 2010 2011
January 111.8 97.1 101.1 (P) 108.1
February 111.6 99.8 102.3 (P) 106.5
March 109.6 95.9 103.6 (P) 108.6
April 110.3 94.3 103.7 (P) 107.5
May 110.2 94.6 104.2  
June 109.7 95.5 104.0  
July 109.9 97.1 104.3  
August 108.1 98.5 103.9  
September 107.0 98.0 105.0  
October 105.8 97.3 105.2  
November 103.2 100.1 104.4  
December 99.4 100.7 (R) 106.9  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2002-2011
Percent change from December of previous year
December to April

Excel | CSV

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2002 1.9 4.4 2.6
2003 -0.9 -6.8 -2.5
2004 2.4 2.8 2.5
2005 1.8 2.3 1.9
2006 -0.7 2.0 0.1
2007 -0.5 1.8 0.1
2008 0.4 -0.2 0.2
2009 -5.2 -0.6 -3.9
2010 3.0 0.9 2.4
2011P 0.6 -0.1 0.4

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

Table 4: Freight Transportation Services Index from April-to-April
Percent Change in the Freight TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  April Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 99.6 1.2
2003 103.5 3.9
2004 110.0 6.3
2005 112.2 1.9
2006 110.6 -1.4
2007 109.2 -1.3
2008 110.3 1.0
2009 94.3 -14.5
2010 103.7 9.9
2011P 107.5 3.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 4a: Annual Freight Transportation Services Index 2001-2010
Full Year Final Percent Change in the Freight TSI (December to December)
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  December Freight TSI Percent Change from Previous Year
2001 97.8 -0.8
2002 104.4 6.7
2003 107.4 2.9
2004 110.2 2.6
2005 111.4 1.1
2006 109.8 -1.5
2007 109.9 0.1
2008 99.4 -9.5
2009 100.7 1.3
2010 106.9 6.2

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: R = revised

Table 5: Transportation Services Indexes from Previous Years
Percent Change to 2011 (April to April)

Excel | CSV

Since April... Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to April 2011 Passenger TSI Percent change to April 2011 Combined TSI Percent change to April 2011
2010 1 3.7 1.9 3.2
2009 2 14.0 2.7 10.8
2008 3 -2.5 -3.2 -2.7
2007 4 -1.5 -2.7 -1.9
2006 5 -2.8 1.6 -1.6
2005 6 -4.1 3.9 -1.9
2004 7 -2.3 9.5 0.9
2003 8 3.9 24.4 9.3
2002 9 7.9 20.6 11.4
2001 10 9.2 11.5 9.6

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: The percent changes to April 2011 are all preliminary.

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2008-2011
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2008 % Growth 2009 % Growth 2010 % Growth 2011 % Growth
January -0.2 -1.0 0.6 (P) 0.6
February 1.4 0.5 -2.1 (P) -1.0
March -1.3 -1.4 2.3 (P) 0.2
April 0.0 1.4 0.2 (P) 0.1
May 0.6 -1.7 0.6  
June -0.9 0.5 0.8  
July -0.1 1.5 -0.2  
August -1.3 -0.1 0.2  
September -1.4 -0.6 1.0  
October -0.8 0.1 0.9  
November -1.7 -0.1 -0.3  
December 0.1 0.2 (R) -1.0  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 7: Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year
Percent change in the April Passenger TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 93.8 -7.6
2003 90.9 -3.1
2004 103.3 13.6
2005 108.9 5.4
2006 111.3 2.2
2007 116.3 4.4
2008 116.9 0.5
2009 110.2 -5.8
2010 111.0 0.7
2011P 113.1 1.9

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2008-2011
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2008 % Growth 2009 % Growth 2010 % Growth 2011 % Growth
January 1.2 -2.0 0.5 (P) 1.0
February 0.2 2.2 0.2 (P) -1.3
March -1.6 -3.3 1.5 (P) 1.4
April 0.4 -0.8 0.1 (P) -0.7
May 0.1 -0.3 0.5  
June -0.6 0.9 0.1  
July 0.1 1.6 0.1  
August -1.6 1.1 -0.2  
September -1.1 -0.5 1.0  
October -1.0 -0.5 0.4  
November -2.3 2.1 -0.6  
December -2.6 0.5 (R) 1.5  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 9: Combined Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year
Percent change in the April Combined TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 97.8 -1.6
2003 99.7 1.9
2004 108.0 8.3
2005 111.1 2.9
2006 110.7 -0.4
2007 111.1 0.3
2008 112.1 0.9
2009 98.4 -12.2
2010 105.6 7.3
2011P 109.0 3.2

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 10: Freight Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2002-2011
Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

Excel | CSV

Year 1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth 2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth 3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth 4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2002 0.9 3.0 1.0 1.8
2003 -0.9 -1.0 1.8 3.0
2004 1.9 0.5 -0.4 0.6
2005 1.4 -0.6 -0.3 0.7
2006 -0.5 0.9 -0.6 -1.3
2007 0.9 -2.2 -0.2 1.6
2008 -0.2 0.1 -2.5 -7.0
2009 -3.6 -0.4 2.6 2.8
2010 2.9 0.5 0.9 1.9
2011 (P) 1.5      

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

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.