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Freight Shipments Fell 1.9% in October from September

Freight Shipments Fell 1.9% in October from September

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Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2007-October 2012

Table Version | Excel | CSV

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2007- October 2012

Source for Recession Dates: National Bureau of Economic Research, US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry fell 1.9 percent in October from September, declining after a one-month increase, according to the U.S. Department of Transportations Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The October 2012 index level (107.1) was 13.6 percent above the April 2009 low during the recession (Tables 1, 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 (107.1) was 6.0 percent (Table 3) below the all-time high level of 114.0 in December 2011 (Table 2A). BTS TSI records began in 1990. See historical TSI data.

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 Freight TSI declined in October 2012, at least in part a result of Hurricane Sandy, which depressed both truck and freight rail traffic. Both rail freight and trucking showed significant declines.

Trend: Since peaking in December 2011 (114.0) at the highest level in the 22-year history of the Freight TSI series, the index remained in a narrow band through the first nine months of 2012, but in October it dropped to its lowest level since May 2011 (105.2). It reached a high of 110.6 in February before falling to the current low for 2012 in October (107.1). After dipping to 94.3 in April 2009 during the recession, freight shipments increased in 27 of the last 42 months, rising 13.6 percent during that period (Tables 2, 2A). For additional historical data, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in October 2012 (107.1) were 13.6 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.3). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3). The October 2012 level is down 6.0 percent from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (114.0).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are down 2.0 percent in the five years from the pre-recession level of October 2007 but are up 3.3 percent in the 10 years from October 2002 despite declines in recent years (Table 5).

Same month of previous year: October 2012 freight shipments fell 1.6 percent from October 2011 but rose 10.1 percent from October 2009, shortly after the end of the recession, but remained below the level in October 2005 (110.4) prior to the recession (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 historical data from 1990 to the present. Release of the November 2012 index is scheduled for January 9, 2013.

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 fell 0.8 percent in October from its September level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI October 2012 level of 117.5 was 2.4 percent above the October 2011 level (Table 7). The index is up 0.9 percent in five years and up 23.2 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 1.6 percent in October from its September level (Table 8). The combined TSI October 2012 level of 109.9 was 0.5 percent below the October 2011 level (Table 9). The combined index is down 1.2 percent in five years but up 8.6 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 June (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The June Freight TSI is 109.9, revised from 109.5 reported in last months release. The June Passenger TSI is 115.8 revised from 117.6. The June Combined TSI is 111.4 revised from 111.7. The TSI for July, August, September and October 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 BTS revision policies is available at monthly revision policy and 2011 Comprehensive Revision.

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes since April 2012
Percent change from Previous Month
(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  Freight Passenger Combined
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
April 109.7 0.1 116.0 -0.4 111.3 0.0
May 109.8 0.1 115.7 -0.2 111.4 0.0
JuneR 109.9 0.1 115.8 0.1 111.4 0.1
JulyP 109.6 -0.2 117.7 1.6 111.8 0.3
AugustP 109.0 -0.6 117.4 -0.3 111.2 -0.5
SeptemberP 109.2 0.2 118.5 0.9 111.7 0.4
OctoberP 107.1 -1.9 117.5 -0.8 109.9 -1.6

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, 2009-2012
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2009 % Change 2010 % Change 2011 % Change 2012 % Change
January -2.4 0.5 1.0 -3.6
February 2.8 1.1 -1.4 0.7
March -4.0 1.2 2.0 -1.0
April -1.6 0.1 -1.0 0.1
May 0.3 0.5 -2.1 0.1
June 1.0 -0.1 2.5 (R) 0.1
July 1.6 0.3 -0.2 (P) -0.2
August 1.5 -0.4 0.4 (P) -0.6
September -0.5 1.1 1.1 (P) 0.2
October -0.7 0.2 -0.3 (P) -1.9
November 2.9 -0.7 0.1  
December 0.6 2.4 4.7  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2009-2012

Excel | CSV

  2009 2010 2011 2012
January 97.1 101.1 107.9 109.9
February 99.8 102.3 106.4 110.6
March 95.9 103.6 108.6 109.5
April 94.3 103.7 107.4 109.7
May 94.6 104.2 105.2 109.8
June 95.5 104.0 107.8 (R) 109.9
July 97.1 104.3 107.6 (P) 109.6
August 98.5 103.9 108.0 (P) 109.0
September 98.0 105.0 109.1 (P) 109.2
October 97.3 105.2 108.8 (P) 107.1
November 100.1 104.4 108.9  
December 100.7 106.9 114.0  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2003-2012
Percent change to October from December of the previous year

Excel | CSV

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2003 1.2 -0.2 0.8
2004 2.7 6.0 3.7
2005 0.2 1.1 0.5
2006 -1.4 2.5 -0.3
2007 -0.4 2.0 0.3
2008 -3.7 -3.9 -3.8
2009 -2.1 -0.9 -1.8
2010 4.4 4.3 4.4
2011 1.8 1.4 1.7
2012P -6.0 0.9 -4.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

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

Excel | CSV

  October Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2003 105.7 1.9
2004 110.4 4.4
2005 110.4 0.1
2006 109.9 -0.5
2007 109.3 -0.5
2008 105.8 -3.2
2009 97.3 -8.0
2010 105.2 8.1
2011 108.8 3.5
2012P 107.1 -1.6

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 2012 (October to October)

Excel | CSV

Since October... Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to October 2012 Passenger TSI Percent change to October 2012 Combined TSI Percent change to October 2012
2011 1 -1.6 2.4 -0.5
2010 2 1.9 2.4 2.1
2009 3 10.1 7.0 9.3
2008 4 1.2 4.4 2.1
2007 5 -2.0 0.9 -1.2
2006 6 -2.5 5.0 -0.4
2005 7 -3.0 9.1 0.3
2004 8 -3.0 10.3 0.7
2003 9 1.3 20.7 6.5
2002 10 3.3 23.2 8.6

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: The Percent changes to October 2012 are all preliminary.

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2009-2012
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2009 % Change 2010 % Change 2011 % Change 2012 % Change
January -1.0 0.6 0.2 -1.0
February 0.5 -2.1 -0.2 1.4
March -1.4 2.3 0.9 -0.3
April 1.4 0.2 -0.1 -0.4
May -1.7 0.6 1.2 -0.2
June 0.5 0.8 -0.6 (R) 0.1
July 1.5 -0.2 0.1 (P) 1.6
August -0.1 0.2 -1.2 (P) -0.3
September -0.6 1.0 1.4 (P) 0.9
October 0.1 0.9 -0.4 (P) -0.8
November -0.1 -0.3 0.5  
December 0.2 -1.0 0.9  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

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

Excel | CSV

  October Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2003 97.4 2.1
2004 106.5 9.4
2005 107.7 1.1
2006 111.9 3.9
2007 116.5 4.1
2008 112.5 -3.4
2009 109.8 -2.4
2010 114.7 4.4
2011 114.8 0.1
2012P 117.5 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, 2009-2012
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2009 % Change 2010 % Change 2011 % Change 2012 % Change
January -2.0 0.5 0.7 -2.9
February 2.2 0.2 -1.1 0.9
March -3.3 1.5 1.7 -0.8
April -0.8 0.1 -0.8 0.0
May -0.3 0.5 -1.2 0.0
June 0.9 0.1 1.6 (R) 0.1
July 1.6 0.1 -0.1 (P) 0.3
August 1.1 -0.2 -0.1 (P) -0.5
September -0.5 1.0 1.2 (P) 0.4
October -0.5 0.4 -0.3 (P) -1.6
November 2.1 -0.6 0.2  
December 0.5 1.5 3.6  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

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

Excel | CSV

  October Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2003 103.2 2.0
2004 109.1 5.8
2005 109.6 0.4
2006 110.4 0.7
2007 111.2 0.8
2008 107.6 -3.3
2009 100.6 -6.5
2010 107.7 7.1
2011 110.4 2.5
2012P 109.9 -0.5

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.