The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 1.5 percent in February from January, rising after remaining unchanged in January from December, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The February 2017 index level (126.4) was 33.5 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. The level of for-hire freight shipments in February measured by the Freight TSI (126.4) reached its all-time high. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.
The December and January indexes were both revised to 124.5 from 123.2 in last month’s release.
The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in for-hire 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 TSI is seasonally-adjusted to remove regular seasons from month-to-month comparisons.
Analysis: The February increase in the Freight TSI was broad based, with growth in all freight transportation modes except pipeline. The increase took place against a background of upward signals in other economic indicators. Employment, Housing Starts, and Personal Income all grew in February, and the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers’ Index showed positive and accelerating growth. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index was unchanged, with growth in manufacturing and mining offset by decline in utility output.
Trend: The Freight TSI reached an all-time high in February, exceeding its previous high, in July 2016, by 1.0 percent. After a period of 32 months beginning in April 2014 and continuing to November 2016 when the index, with only two exceptions, fluctuated between 119.7 and 123.5, the Freight TSI has now reached or exceeded 124.5 for three months in succession. The February increase represented the fifth month in succession when Freight TSI increased or was stable, for an overall increase of 4.5 percent, following two months of decline (a decrease of 3.3 percent). These changes immediately followed a similar pattern, of four months of growth (an overall increase 4.9 percent) following two months of decline (2.6 percent). During the 13-months from January 2016 to February 2017, freight shipments rose 3.3 percent. The February index was 33.5 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.
Index highs and lows: For-hire freight shipments in February 2017 (126.4) were 33.5 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.7). The February 2017 level reached its all-time high.