Freight shipments drop for first time in 2 months

Report shows large declines in trucking and pipeline activity

Posted April 15, 2016

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, fell 0.7 percent in February from January, falling after two months of growth, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

The February 2016 index level (122.2) was 29.0 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.

The level of freight shipments in February measured by the Freight TSI (122.2) was 1.2 percent below the all-time high level of 123.7 in November 2014 (Table 2A).

According to BTS, the February Freight TSI decrease of 0.7 percent from January was due to substantial declines in trucking and pipeline, and a smaller decrease in rail intermodal. Air freight, water, and rail carloads all increased.

The TSI decrease paralleled a drop in the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index which declined by 0.5 percent in February (reversing its decline in January), with particular declines in mining (1.4 percent) and utilities (4.0 percent).

The ISM Manufacturing Index, though it increased, was again below 50, indicating declining manufacturing activity. Value of manufacturers’ inventories decreased again in January, though inventory to sales ratios remained high.

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.

The entire February 2016 Freight TSI can be viewed on BTS’s website.


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