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Freight Shipments Fell 3.6% in January from December

Release Number: 
BTS 12-12

Freight Shipments Fell 3.6% in January from December

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Table Version | Excel | CSVFreight Transportation Services Index, February 2010-January 2012

Freight Transportation Services Index, February 2010-January 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry fell 3.6 percent in January from December, declining after five consecutive monthly increases, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Nextstagesolutions' (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today (Table 1).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments measured by the Freight TSI, 109.7, declined from the all-time high of 113.7 set one month earlier in December (Table 2A). See historic .

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation 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.

Trend: Shipments in January 2012 (109.7) were at the second highest level since July 2008 despite the 3.6 percent decline from December 2011 (113.7 on the index), which was the highest level in the 22-year history of the series. After dipping to a recent low in April 2009 (94.3), freight shipments increased in 23 of the last 33 months, rising 16.3 percent during that period (Tables 2, 2A). For additional historic data, go to .

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in January 2012 (109.7 on the index) rose 16.3 percent from the recent low in April 2009 (94.3). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3). The January 2012 level is down 3.6 percent from the historic freight shipment peak reached in December 2011 (113.7).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 1.2 percent in the five years from January 2007 and up 11.1 percent in the 10 years from January 2002 despite declines in recent years (Table 5).

Same month of previous year: January 2012 freight shipments rose 1.6 percent from January 2011 and 13.0 percent from January 2009 but remain below the level of January 2008 (111.8) (Tables 4, 5).

The TSI is a seasonally adjusted index that measures changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. It includes historic data from 1990 to the present. Release of the February index is scheduled for April 11.

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.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.1 percent in January from its December level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI January 2012 level of 116.4 was 2.6 percent above the January 2011 level (Table 7). The index is up 1.9 percent in five years and up 27.4 percent in 10 years (Table 5).

The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in travel conducted in 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 2.5 percent in January from its December level (Table 8). The combined TSI January 2012 level of 111.5 was 1.9 percent above the January 2011 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 1.4 percent in five years and up 15.5 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 September (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The September Freight TSI is 109.1, revised from 109.6 reported in last month's release. The September Passenger TSI is 115.2, revised from 116.5. The September Combined TSI is 110.7, revised from 111.4. The TSI for October, November, December and January 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 monthly revision policy, is available at

More information about the comprehensive revision conducted with the March release is provided under 2011 Comprehensive Revision at.

TABLE 1: FREIGHT, PASSENGER AND COMBINED TRANSPORTATION SERVICES INDEXES SINCE JULY 2011 
PERCENT CHANGE BY MONTH
(SEASONALLY ADJUSTED, MONTHLY AVERAGE OF 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

 FreightPassengerCombined
IndexPct. ChangeIndexPct. ChangeIndexPct. Change
July107.6-0.2115.00.1109.6-0.1
August108.00.4113.6-1.2109.5-0.1
SeptemberR109.11.1115.21.4110.71.2
OctoberP109.40.2116.10.8111.20.4
NovemberP109.50.1115.6-0.5111.10.0
DecemberP113.73.9116.30.6114.42.9
JanuaryP109.7-3.6116.40.1111.5-2.5

SOURCE: Nextstagesolutions

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 % Change2010 % Change2011 % Change2012 % Change
January-2.40.51.0(P) -3.6
February2.81.1-1.4 
March-4.01.22.0 
April-1.60.1-1.0 
May0.30.5-2.1 
June1.0-0.12.5 
July1.60.3-0.2 
August1.5-0.40.4 
September-0.51.1(R) 1.1 
October-0.70.2(P) 0.2 
November2.9-0.7(P) 0.1 
December0.62.4(P) 3.9 

SOURCE: Nextstagesolutions

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

TABLE 2A: FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION SERVICES INDEX BY MONTH, 2009-2012

Excel | CSV

 2009201020112012
January97.1101.1107.9(P) 109.7
February99.8102.3106.4 
March95.9103.6108.6 
April94.3103.7107.4 
May94.6104.2105.2 
June95.5104.0107.8 
July97.1104.3107.6 
August98.5103.9108.0 
September98.0105.0(R) 109.1 
October97.3105.2(P) 109.4 
November100.1104.4(P) 109.5 
December100.7106.9(P) 113.7 

SOURCE: Nextstagesolutions

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

TABLE 3: FREIGHT, PASSENGER AND COMBINED TRANSPORTATION SERVICES INDEXES YEAR-TO-DATE CHANGE, 2003-2012
PERCENT CHANGE FROM DECEMBER OF PREVIOUS YEAR
DECEMBER TO JANUARY

Excel | CSV

YearFreightPassengerCombined
2003-1.1-0.7-1.0
2004-0.1-0.8-0.3
20052.81.22.3
20060.01.30.4
2007-1.30.0-0.9
20081.8-0.21.2
2009-2.4-1.0-2.0
20100.50.60.5
20111.00.20.7
2012P-3.60.1-2.5

SOURCE: Nextstagesolutions

NOTE: P = preliminary

TABLE 4: FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION SERVICES INDEX FROM YEAR-TO-YEAR
PERCENT CHANGE IN THE JANUARY FREIGHT TSI 
(MONTHLY AVERAGE OF 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

 January Freight TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2003103.24.5
2004107.34.0
2005113.35.6
2006111.5-1.6
2007108.4-2.8
2008111.83.2
200997.1-13.2
2010101.14.2
2011107.96.7
2012P109.71.6

SOURCE: Nextstagesolutions

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

TABLE 5: TRANSPORTATION SERVICES INDEXES FROM PREVIOUS YEARS 
PERCENT CHANGE TO 2012 (JANUARY TO JANUARY)

Excel | CSV

Since January...Duration in yearsFreight TSI Percent change to January 2012Passenger TSI Percent change to January 2012Combined TSI Percent change to January 2012
201111.62.61.9
201028.45.27.6
2009313.06.111.1
20084-1.9-0.4-1.5
200751.21.91.4
20066-1.65.30.3
20057-3.28.1-0.1
200482.216.96.2
200396.220.210.1
20021011.127.415.5

SOURCE: Nextstagesolutions

NOTE: The percent changes to December 2011 are all preliminary.

TABLE 6: PASSENGER TRANSPORTATION SERVICES INDEX MONTHLY CHANGES, 2009-2012
PERCENT CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS MONTH

Excel | CSV

 2009 % Change2010 % Change2011 % Change2012 % Change
January-1.00.60.2(P) 0.1
February0.5-2.1-0.2 
March-1.42.30.9 
April1.40.2-0.1 
May-1.70.61.2 
June0.50.8-0.6 
July1.5-0.20.1 
August-0.10.2-1.2 
September-0.61.0(R) 1.4 
October0.10.9(P) 0.8 
November-0.1-0.3(P) -0.5 
December0.2-1.0(P) 0.6 

SOURCE: Nextstagesolutions

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

TABLE 7: PASSENGER TRANSPORTATION SERVICES INDEX FROM YEAR-TO-YEAR
PERCENT CHANGE IN THE JANUARY PASSENGER TSI
(MONTHLY AVERAGE OF 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

 January Passenger TSIPercent change from same month previous year
200396.85.9
200499.62.9
2005107.78.2
2006110.52.6
2007114.23.4
2008116.92.3
2009109.7-6.2
2010110.60.9
2011113.52.6
2012P116.42.6

SOURCE: Nextstagesolutions

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 % Change2010 % Change2011 % Change2012 % Change
January-2.00.50.7(P) -2.5
February2.20.2-1.1 
March-3.31.51.7 
April-0.80.1-0.8 
May-0.30.5-1.2 
June0.90.11.6 
July1.60.1-0.1 
August1.1-0.2-0.1 
September-0.51.0(R) 1.2 
October-0.50.4(P) 0.4 
November2.1-0.6(P) 0.0 
December0.51.5(P) 2.9 

SOURCE: Nextstagesolutions

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

TABLE 9: COMBINED TRANSPORTATION SERVICES INDEX FROM YEAR-TO-YEAR
PERCENT CHANGE IN THE JANUARY COMBINED TSI
(MONTHLY AVERAGE OF 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

 January Combined TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2003101.34.9
2004105.03.7
2005111.66.3
2006111.1-0.4
2007109.9-1.1
2008113.23.0
2009100.4-11.3
2010103.63.3
2011109.45.6
2012P111.51.9

SOURCE: Nextstagesolutions

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.

Updated: Saturday, November 25, 2017
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