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Freight Shipments Rose 0.9% in September from August

Freight Shipments Rose 0.9% in September from August

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BTS 56-11
Dave Smallen
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Freight Transportation Services Index, October 2009-September 2011

Table Version | Excel | CSV

Freight Transportation Services Index, October 2009-September 2011

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 - The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.9 percent in September from August, 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 4.2 percent in the last four 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 September 2011 (109.6 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 20 of the last 28 months. Shipments rose 16.2 percent over the last 29 months starting from April 2009 after declining 15.5 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 nine months of 2011, freight shipments measured by the index were up 2.5 percent (Table 3).

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in September 2011 (109.6 on the index) rose 16.2 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 September 2011 level is down 3.3 percent from the historic freight shipment peak reached in January 2005 (113.3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are down 1.4 percent in the five years from September 2006. Shipments are up 11.8 percent in the 10 years from September 2001 despite declines in recent years (Table 5).

Same month of previous year: Although September 2011 freight shipments rose 4.4 percent from September 2010 and 11.9 percent from September 2009, they remain below the all-time high for the month of September (111.2) reached in 2006 (Tables 4, 5).

3rd Quarter Changes: The Freight TSI rose 1.2 percent in the third quarter, following one quarterly decline. The index rose in eight of the last nine quarters (Table 10).

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 October index is scheduled for Dec. 14.

On Sept. 14, BTS presented a webinar on the Freight TSI and its relationship to the cycles of the general economy. It is available here.

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 0.9 percent in September from its August level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI September 2011 level of 116.5 was 2.4 percent above the September 2010 level (Table 7). The index is up 5.4 percent in five years and up 45.0 percent in 10 years (Table 5). The passenger TSI rose 0.7 percent in the third quarter, rising for the ninth time in the past 10 quarters (Table 11).

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 rose 0.9 percent in September from its August level (Table 8). The combined TSI September 2011 level of 111.4 was 3.9 percent above the September 2010 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 0.4 percent in five years and up 20.3 percent in 10 years despite recent declines (Table 5). The combined TSI rose 1.1 percent in the third quarter, for the ninth consecutive quarterly increase (Table 12). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: TSI numbers for May (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The May Freight TSI is 105.2, revised from 105.6 reported in last months release. The May Passenger TSI is 115.6, revised from 116.3. The May Combined TSI is 107.9, revised from 108.4. The TSI for June, July, August and September 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 March 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
March 108.6 2.0 114.3 0.9 110.1 1.7
April 107.4 -1.0 114.3 -0.1 109.2 -0.8
MayR 105.2 -2.1 115.6 1.2 107.9 -1.2
JuneP 108.3 3.0 115.7 0.1 110.3 2.2
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
SeptemberP 109.6 0.9 116.5 0.9 111.4 0.9

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 -1.0
May -0.1 0.3 0.5 (R) -2.1
June -0.4 1.0 -0.1 (P) 3.0
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 (P) 0.9
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 94.3 103.7 107.4
May 110.2 94.6 104.2 (R) 105.2
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 (P) 109.6
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 September

Excel | CSV

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2002 4.9 4.4 4.8
2003 -0.1 0.5 0.1
2004 2.0 3.0 2.3
2005 0.5 3.4 1.3
2006 -0.2 1.3 0.3
2007 -1.5 3.2 -0.2
2008 -2.7 -3.2 -2.8
2009 -1.5 -1.0 -1.3
2010 4.3 3.4 4.0
2011P 2.5 2.8 2.6

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

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

Excel | CSV

  September Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 102.6 4.7
2003 104.3 1.7
2004 109.6 5.0
2005 110.7 1.0
2006 111.2 0.5
2007 108.1 -2.8
2008 107.0 -1.1
2009 98.0 -8.4
2010 105.0 7.1
2011P 109.6 4.4

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 (September to September)

Excel | CSV

Since September... Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to September 2011 Passenger TSI Percent change to September 2011 Combined TSI Percent change to September 2011
2010 1 4.4 2.4 3.9
2009 2 11.9 6.2 10.3
2008 3 2.5 2.7 2.5
2007 4 1.4 -1.2 0.7
2006 5 -1.4 5.4 0.4
2005 6 -1.0 5.8 0.9
2004 7 0.0 12.6 3.5
2003 8 5.1 18.9 8.9
2002 9 6.8 24.2 11.5
2001 10 11.8 45.0 20.3

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: The percent changes to September 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 -0.1
May 0.6 -1.7 0.6 (R) 1.2
June -0.9 0.5 0.8 (P) 0.1
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 (P) 0.9
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 September Passenger TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  September Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 93.8 16.8
2003 98.0 4.4
2004 103.4 5.6
2005 110.1 6.4
2006 110.5 0.4
2007 117.9 6.6
2008 113.4 -3.8
2009 109.7 -3.3
2010 113.7 3.7
2011P 116.5 2.4

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 -0.8
May 0.1 -0.3 0.5 (R) -1.2
June -0.6 0.9 0.1 (P) 2.2
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 (P) 0.9
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 September Combined TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  September Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 99.9 7.9
2003 102.4 2.4
2004 107.7 5.2
2005 110.4 2.5
2006 111.0 0.5
2007 110.7 -0.2
2008 108.7 -1.8
2009 101.0 -7.0
2010 107.3 6.2
2011P 111.4 3.9

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 1.5 (P) -0.2 (P) 1.2  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

Table 11: Passenger 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 3.8 1.6 -1.0 3.9
2003 -4.0 0.1 4.5 2.5
2004 1.8 2.1 -0.9 2.9
2005 1.9 0.5 0.9 -0.9
2006 2.0 0.1 -0.8 3.3
2007 2.1 0.4 0.7 -0.6
2008 -0.1 -0.3 -2.7 -2.3
2009 -1.9 0.1 0.8 0.3
2010 0.7 1.6 1.0 -0.4
2011 1.0 (P) 1.2 (P) 0.7  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

Table 12: Combined 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 1.7 2.6 0.4 2.4
2003 -1.7 -0.7 2.6 2.9
2004 1.8 1.0 -0.5 1.2
2005 1.5 -0.2 0.0 0.2
2006 0.2 0.7 -0.7 0.0
2007 1.3 -1.5 0.0 1.0
2008 -0.2 0.0 -2.6 -5.8
2009 -3.1 -0.2 2.1 2.1
2010 2.3 0.8 0.9 1.2
2011 1.4 (P) 0.2 (P) 1.1  

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.