You are here

Freight Shipments Rose 0.4% in August from July

Freight Shipments Rose 0.4% in August from July

PDF

BTS 50-11
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Freight Transportation Services Index, September 2009-August 2011

Table Version | Excel | CSV

Freight Transportation Services Index, September 2009-August 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.4 percent in August from July, reaching the highest level since July 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Transportations Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today (Table 1).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments, measured by the Freight TSI, rose 2.9 percent in the last three months to reach the new level (Table 2A).

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation 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.

Trend: Shipments in August 2011 (108.7 on the index) were at the highest level since July 2008 (109.9). July 2008 was followed by six straight months of decline. After dipping to a recent low in April 2009 (94.3), freight shipments increased in 19 of the last 28 months. Shipments rose 15.3 percent over the last 29 months starting from April 2009 after declining 15.6 percent from February 2008 to April 2009 (Tables 2, 2A). For additional historic data, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

Year-to-date: For the first eight months of 2011, freight shipments measured by the index were up 1.6 percent (Table 3).

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in August (108.7 on the index) rose 15.3 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 August 2011 level is down 4.1 percent from the historic freight shipment peak reached in January 2005 (113.3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 0.6 percent in the five years from August 2006. Shipments are up 9.4 percent in the 10 years from August 2001 despite recent declines (Table 5).

Same month of previous year: Although August 2011 freight shipments rose 4.6 percent from August 2010 and 10.3 percent from August 2009, they remain below the all-time high for the month of August (111.4) reached in 2005 (Tables 4, 5).

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 September index is scheduled for Nov. 9.

A BTS webinar on the TSI and its relationship to the cycles of the general economy will be presented on Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. The session will include time for audience questions.

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 fell 1.4 percent in August from its July level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI August 2011 level of 115.4 was 2.5 percent above the August 2010 level (Table 7). The index is up 4.8 percent in five years and up 11.2 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 0.1 percent in August from its July level (Table 8). The combined TSI August 2011 level of 110.5 was 4.1 percent higher than the August 2010 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 1.7 percent in five years and up 9.7 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 April (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The April Freight TSI is 107.4, revised from the 107.5 reported in last months release. The April Passenger TSI is 114.3, revised from 113.1. The April Combined TSI is 109.2, revised from 109.0. The TSI for May, June, July and August 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
February 2011
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
February 106.4 -1.4 113.3 -0.2 108.2 -1.1
March 108.6 2.0 114.3 0.9 110.1 1.7
AprilR 107.4 -1.0 114.3 -0.1 109.2 -0.8
MayP 105.6 -1.7 116.3 1.8 108.4 -0.7
JuneP 108.3 2.6 115.7 -0.5 110.3 1.7
JulyP 108.3 0.0 117.1 1.2 110.6 0.3
AugustP 108.7 0.4 115.4 -1.4 110.5 -0.1

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 % Change 2009 % Change 2010 % Change 2011 % Change
January 1.8 -2.4 0.5 1.0
February -0.2 2.8 1.1 -1.4
March -1.7 -4.0 1.2 2.0
April 0.6 -1.6 0.1 (R) -1.0
May -0.1 0.3 0.5 (P) -1.7
June -0.4 1.0 -0.1 (P) 2.6
July 0.2 1.6 0.3 (P) 0.0
August -1.7 1.5 -0.4 (P) 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 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 97.1 101.1 107.9
February 111.6 99.8 102.3 106.4
March 109.6 95.9 103.6 108.6
April 110.3 94.3 103.7 (R) 107.4
May 110.2 94.6 104.2 (P) 105.6
June 109.7 95.5 104.0 (P) 108.3
July 109.9 97.1 104.3 (P) 108.3
August 108.1 98.5 103.9 (P) 108.7
September 107.0 98.0 105.0  
October 105.8 97.3 105.2  
November 103.2 100.1 104.4  
December 99.4 100.7 106.9  

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 August

Excel | CSV

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2002 4.8 5.4 4.9
2003 -0.9 -1.3 -1.1
2004 2.1 4.7 2.8
2005 1.1 2.2 1.4
2006 -3.0 1.0 -1.9
2007 -1.7 3.3 -0.3
2008 -1.7 -1.8 -1.7
2009 -0.9 -0.4 -0.8
2010 3.2 2.3 3.0
2011P 1.6 1.9 1.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

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

Excel | CSV

  August Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 102.5 3.1
2003 103.4 0.9
2004 109.7 6.1
2005 111.4 1.6
2006 108.1 -3.0
2007 107.9 -0.2
2008 108.1 0.2
2009 98.5 -8.8
2010 103.9 5.4
2011P 108.7 4.6

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

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

Excel | CSV

Since August... Duration In years Freight TSI Percent change to August 2011 Passenger TSI Percent change to August 2011 Combined TSI Percent change to August 2011
2010 1 4.6 2.5 4.1
2009 2 10.3 4.6 8.7
2008 3 0.6 0.4 0.5
2007 4 0.8 -2.1 -0.1
2006 5 0.6 4.8 1.7
2005 6 -2.5 6.1 -0.1
2004 7 -0.9 9.8 2.0
2003 8 5.1 20.0 9.1
2002 9 6.1 22.0 10.4
2001 10 9.4 11.2 9.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

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

Excel | CSV

  2008 % Change 2009 % Change 2010 % Change 2011 % Change
January -0.2 -1.0 0.6 0.2
February 1.4 0.5 -2.1 -0.2
March -1.3 -1.4 2.3 0.9
April 0.0 1.4 0.2 (R) -0.1
May 0.6 -1.7 0.6 (P) 1.8
June -0.9 0.5 0.8 (P) -0.5
July -0.1 1.5 -0.2 (P) 1.2
August -1.3 -0.1 0.2 (P) -1.4
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 -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 August Passenger TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  August Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 94.6 -8.8
2003 96.2 1.7
2004 105.1 9.3
2005 108.8 3.5
2006 110.1 1.2
2007 118.0 7.1
2008 115.0 -2.5
2009 110.3 -4.1
2010 112.6 2.0
2011P 115.4 2.5

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 % Change 2009 % Change 2010 % Change 2011 % Change
January 1.2 -2.0 0.5 0.7
February 0.2 2.2 0.2 -1.1
March -1.6 -3.3 1.5 1.7
April 0.4 -0.8 0.1 (R) -0.8
May 0.1 -0.3 0.5 (P) -0.7
June -0.6 0.9 0.1 (P) 1.7
July 0.1 1.6 0.1 (P) 0.3
August -1.6 1.1 -0.2 (P) -0.1
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 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 August Combined TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  August Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 100.1 -0.6
2003 101.2 1.1
2004 108.3 7.0
2005 110.6 2.1
2006 108.6 -1.8
2007 110.6 1.8
2008 109.9 -0.6
2009 101.6 -7.6
2010 106.2 4.5
2011P 110.5 4.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

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, sight seeing services, ferry services, taxi service, private automobile usage, or bicycling and other non-motorized transportation.