The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) recently reported that its Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) increased 1.6 percent from February to March, which is the most recent month for which data is available.
This follows a 1.2 percent hike from January to February, which was preceded by two consecutive months of declines.
According to BTS officials, the Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments 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.
The March Freight TSI at 116.7 is 23.2 percent ahead of April 2009 low point of the recession and 0.8 percent below the all-time high of 117.7 recorded in November 2013, with freight shipments hitting their third-highest level ever, following November and December 2013. After dipping to 94.8 in April 2009, the index has increased by a cumulative 23.2 percent in the succeeding 59 months.
BTS said the Freight TSI’s gain in March showed growth in all modes with the exception of pipeline, with trucking and rail intermodal the fastest growing modes for the second month in a row.
“The growth in trucking represented continued recovery from unusually severe winter weather that hampered freight shipments in earlier months,” said BTS. “Severe weather can affect the demand for goods to ship as well as the ability to move goods. The decline in the Freight TSI in December and January and its rebound in the succeeding two months took place while GDP growth slowed to an annualized rate of 0.1 percent during the first quarter of 2014 from 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.”
On a year-to-date basis, freight shipments through March are down 0.2 percent and on an annual basis March freight shipments are up 3 percent.