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Freight Shipments Rose 0.4% in August from July

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Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, August 2008- August 2013

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, August 2008- August 2013

Source for Recession Dates: National Bureau of Economic Research,

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.4 percent in August from July, rising for the second consecutive month to reach the second highest level in the history of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI). The August 2013 index level (114.8) was 21.0 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

The level of freight shipments in August measured by the Freight TSI (114.8) was 0.3 percent below the all-time high level of 115.2 in December 2011 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The July (114.3) and June (114.0) index were revised but remain unchanged from the previous release.

Beginning with the April release, BTS improved procedures and refined the TSI methodology. As a result there have been minor changes in monthly numbers released previously. Documentation will be made available in the near future.

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 has increased in eight out of the last 10 months, growing from 108.4 to 114.8, an increase of 5.9 percent since October 2012.  Most of the increase was in trucking and rail intermodal.

The 10-month growth is consistent with steady growth in Gross Domestic Product, industrial production and employment over the same time period.  The growth in the economy has come particularly from housing, autos and energy, sectors that generate relatively large amounts of freight tonnage.

Trend: The Freight TSI remained above its 2012 range for the eighth month in a row.  Beginning with January, every month in 2013 has exceeded the high point of 2012, 112.3 reached in December. The August 2013 level is the highest TSI freight has been in 2013, and is the second highest all-time level exceeded only by December 2011. After dipping to 94.9 in April 2009, the index rose 21 percent in the succeeding 52 months. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in August 2013 (114.8) were 21.0 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.9). The August 2013 level is down 0.3 percent from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (115.2).

Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were up 2.2 percent in August compared to the end of 2012 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 5.2 percent in the five years from the recession level of August 2008 and are up 10.5 percent in the 10 years from August 2003 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: August 2013 freight shipments were up 3.4 percent from August 2012 (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 data from 2000 to the present. Release of the September 2013 index is scheduled for Nov. 14.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.1 percent in August from its July level (Table 6).  The Passenger TSI August 2013 level of 117.6 was 0.8 percent above the August 2012 level (Table 7). The index is up 1.3 percent in five years and up 20.8 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 rose 0.3 percent in August from its July level (Table 8). The combined TSI August 2013 level of 115.6 was 2.7 percent above the August 2012 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 4.0 percent in five years and up 13.1 percent in 10 years (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: Monthly data has changed from previous releases due to the use of concurrent seasonal analysis, which results in seasonal analysis factors changing as each months data are added.    

For a webinar on the TSI, see Past Webinars.  For a video explanation of the TSI, see .  A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Since February 2013

Percent Change from Previous Month

(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

 FreightPassengerCombined
IndexPct. ChangeIndexPct. ChangeIndexPct. Change
February113.20.7116.4-0.2114.10.4
March113.90.7116.2-0.2114.60.4
April112.9-0.9117.61.2114.2-0.3
May114.11.1117.70.0115.10.8
June114.0-0.1117.80.1115.1-0.1
July114.30.3117.4-0.3115.20.1
August114.80.4117.60.1115.60.3

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2010-2013

Percent change from previous month

 2010 % Change2011 % Change2012 % Change2013 % Change
January0.51.0-3.60.1
February1.6-1.70.10.7
March0.01.5-0.50.7
April0.7-0.40.6-0.9
May0.6-2.20.11.1
June-0.32.10.4-0.1
July0.60.2-0.20.3
August-0.30.7-0.50.4
September0.90.70.2 
October0.50.0-2.5 
November-0.40.22.2 
December1.94.01.3 

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2010-2013

 2010201120122013
January102.3109.6111.1112.4
February104.0107.7111.2113.2
March104.0109.3110.6113.9
April104.7108.8111.2112.9
May105.4106.5111.4114.1
June105.1108.7111.8114.0
July105.7108.9111.6114.3
August105.4109.7111.0114.8
September106.3110.5111.2 
October106.8110.5108.4 
November106.4110.8110.8 
December108.5115.2112.3 

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2004-2013

Percent change to August from December of the previous year

YearFreightPassengerCombined
20042.13.92.6
20051.31.11.2
2006-2.50.3-1.8
2007-1.13.40.1
2008-1.6-0.4-1.3
2009-0.9-0.4-0.8
20103.51.73.0
20111.20.10.9
2012-3.60.3-2.5
20132.21.32.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 4: Freight Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the August Freight TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

 August Freight TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2004110.36.1
2005112.42.0
2006109.3-2.8
2007109.2-0.1
2008109.1-0.2
200999.6-8.7
2010105.45.8
2011109.74.1
2012111.01.1
2013114.83.4

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 5: Transportation Services Indexes from Previous Years

Percent Change to 2013 (August to August)

Since August . . .Duration in yearsFreight TSI Percent change to August 2013Passenger TSI Percent change to August 2013Combined TSI Percent change to August 2013
201213.40.82.7
201124.63.74.4
201038.94.47.6
2009415.36.812.7
200855.21.34.0
200765.1-0.23.5
200675.07.45.5
200582.18.93.8
200494.112.66.3
20031010.520.813.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2010-2013

Percent change from previous month

 2010 % Change2011 % Change2012 % Change2013 % Change
January0.30.4-1.10.5
February-2.5-1.41.5-0.2
March2.91.8-0.1-0.2
April-0.50.0-0.41.2
May0.51.1-0.40.0
June0.9-0.60.00.1
July0.10.9-0.6-0.3
August0.0-2.01.50.1
September1.32.2-0.5 
October1.5-0.1-1.6 
November-1.10.00.6 
December-1.10.51.0 

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 7: Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the August Passenger TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

 August Passenger TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2004104.47.3
2005108.03.5
2006109.51.4
2007117.87.6
2008116.1-1.5
2009110.1-5.1
2010112.62.3
2011113.30.7
2012116.73.0
2013117.60.8

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2010-2013

Percent change from previous month

 2010 % Change2011 % Change2012 % Change2013 % Change
January0.50.8-2.90.2
February0.4-1.60.50.4
March0.91.6-0.40.4
April0.4-0.30.3-0.3
May0.6-1.20.00.8
June0.11.30.3-0.1
July0.40.4-0.30.1
August-0.2-0.10.00.3
September1.01.20.0 
October0.80.0-2.2 
November-0.60.11.7 
December1.03.01.3 

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 9: Combined Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the August Combined TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

 August Combined TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2004108.86.5
2005111.42.4
2006109.5-1.7
2007111.72.0
2008111.1-0.5
2009102.5-7.7
2010107.44.8
2011110.83.1
2012112.61.7
2013115.62.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Updated: Thursday, December 7, 2017
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