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Freight Shipments Rose 3.9% in December from November

Freight Shipments Rose 3.9% in December from November

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Freight Transportation Services Index, January 2010-December 2011

Table Version | Excel | CSV

Freight Transportation Services Index, January 2010-December 2011

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 3.9 percent in December from November, the largest monthly rise in 17 years, which brought the level of freight shipments to an all-time high, 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, 113.7, surpassed the previous high of 113.3 in January 2005 (Table 2A). See historic TSI data.

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 December 2011 (113.7 on the index) were at the highest level in the 22-year history of the series. After dipping to a recent low in April 2009 (94.3), freight shipments increased in 22 of the last 32 months, rising 20.6 percent during that period (Tables 2, 2A). For additional historic data, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

Annual: For the full year 2011, freight shipments measured by the index were up 6.4 percent, the highest full-year growth rate since 2002, and marked the third consecutive year with an increase (Table 3).

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in December 2011 (113.7 on the index) rose 20.6 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 December 2011 level is up 0.4 percent from the previous historic freight shipment peak reached in January 2005 (113.3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 3.6 percent in the five years from December 2006 and up 16.3 percent in the 10 years from December 2001 despite declines in recent years (Table 5).

4th Quarter Changes: The Freight TSI rose 3.7 percent in the fourth Quarter, the second consecutive quarterly increase. The index rose in nine of the last 10 quarters (Table 10).

Same month of previous year: December 2011 freight shipments rose 6.4 percent from December 2010 and 13.0 percent from December 2009 to surpass the previous all-time high for the month of December (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 January index is scheduled for March 14.

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.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.6 percent in December from its November level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI December 2011 level of 116.3 was 2.6 percent above the December 2010 level (Table 7). The index is up 1.8 percent in five years and up 29.4 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 passengers rose 2.9 percent in December from its November level (Table 8). The combined TSI December 2011 level of 114.4 was 5.3 percent above the December 2010 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 3.1 percent in five years and up 19.9 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 August (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The August Freight TSI is 108.0, revised from 108.7 reported in last months release. The August Passenger TSI is 113.6, revised from 115.4. The August Combined TSI is 109.5, revised from 110.5. The TSI for September, October, November and December 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 June 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
June 107.8 2.5 114.9 -0.6 109.7 1.6
July 107.6 -0.2 115.0 0.1 109.6 -0.1
AugustR 108.0 0.4 113.6 -1.2 109.5 -0.1
SeptemberP 109.6 1.5 116.5 2.5 111.4 1.8
OctoberP 109.4 -0.2 116.1 -0.3 111.2 -0.3
NovemberP 109.5 0.1 115.6 -0.5 111.1 0.0
DecemberP 113.7 3.9 116.3 0.6 114.4 2.9

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 -2.1
June -0.4 1.0 -0.1 2.5
July 0.2 1.6 0.3 -0.2
August -1.7 1.5 -0.4 (R) 0.4
September -1.0 -0.5 1.1 (P) 1.5
October -1.1 -0.7 0.2 (P) -0.2
November -2.5 2.9 -0.7 (P) 0.1
December -3.6 0.6 2.4 (P) 3.9

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 94.6 104.2 105.2
June 109.7 95.5 104.0 107.8
July 109.9 97.1 104.3 107.6
August 108.1 98.5 103.9 (R) 108.0
September 107.0 98.0 105.0 (P) 109.6
October 105.8 97.3 105.2 (P) 109.4
November 103.2 100.1 104.4 (P) 109.5
December 99.4 100.7 106.9 (P) 113.7

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 December

Excel | CSV

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2002 6.7 8.6 7.3
2003 2.9 3.0 2.9
2004 2.6 6.0 3.5
2005 1.1 2.5 1.5
2006 -1.5 4.7 0.2
2007 0.1 2.5 0.8
2008 -9.5 -5.4 -8.4
2009 1.3 -0.7 0.7
2010 6.2 3.0 5.3
2011P 6.4 2.6 5.3

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

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

Excel | CSV

  December Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
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
2011P 113.7 6.4

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 (December to December)

Excel | CSV

Since December... Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to December 2011 Passenger TSI Percent change to December 2011 Combined TSI Percent change to December 2011
2010 1 6.4 2.6 5.3
2009 2 13.0 5.7 10.9
2008 3 14.4 4.9 11.7
2007 4 3.5 -0.7 2.3
2006 5 3.6 1.8 3.1
2005 6 2.1 6.6 3.3
2004 7 3.2 9.2 4.9
2003 8 5.9 15.7 8.6
2002 9 8.9 19.2 11.8
2001 10 16.3 29.4 19.9

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: The percent changes to December 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 1.2
June -0.9 0.5 0.8 -0.6
July -0.1 1.5 -0.2 0.1
August -1.3 -0.1 0.2 (R) -1.2
September -1.4 -0.6 1.0 (P) 2.5
October -0.8 0.1 0.9 (P) -0.3
November -1.7 -0.1 -0.3 (P) -0.5
December 0.1 0.2 -1.0 (P) 0.6

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

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

Excel | CSV

  December Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 97.5 8.6
2003 100.4 3.0
2004 106.5 6.0
2005 109.1 2.5
2006 114.2 4.7
2007 117.1 2.5
2008 110.8 -5.4
2009 110.0 -0.7
2010 113.3 3.0
2011P 116.3 2.6

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 -1.2
June -0.6 0.9 0.1 1.6
July 0.1 1.6 0.1 -0.1
August -1.6 1.1 -0.2 (R) -0.1
September -1.1 -0.5 1.0 (P) 1.8
October -1.0 -0.5 0.4 (P) -0.3
November -2.3 2.1 -0.6 (P) 0.0
December -2.6 0.5 1.5 (P) 2.9

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

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

Excel | CSV

  December Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 102.3 7.3
2003 105.3 2.9
2004 109.0 3.5
2005 110.7 1.5
2006 110.9 0.2
2007 111.8 0.8
2008 102.4 -8.4
2009 103.1 0.7
2010 108.6 5.3
2011P 114.4 5.3

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 -0.7 (P) 1.7 (P) 3.7

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 0.5 (P) 1.3 (P) -0.2

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 -0.4 (P) 1.6 (P) 2.6

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.