Fleet Management

DOT Freight Index Near All-Time High Despite Slight Drop

August 13, 2014

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The U.S. Transportation Department’s Freight Transportation Services Index declined 0.9% in June from May, falling after four consecutive monthly increases, according to numbers released Wednesday.

The June 2014 index level of 119.1 is still 25.9% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession and very close to the all-time high reached this past May, which was revised downward to 120 from an earlier reported 120.2.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by transportation mode in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index, based on output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, June 2009 - June 2014. Graphic: U.S. DOT
Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, June 2009 - June 2014. Graphic: U.S. DOT

The index for each freight mode declined in June with the largest drop in pipelines. The declines took place when construction spending, which often is a driver of transportation shipments, declined in June after several months of increases, according to DOT. Construction spending declined although there was growth in several other economic indicators.

Despite the decrease, the freight index was higher in each month of the second quarter of 2014 than it was in any month of the first quarter of 2014 when weather impacted transportation. The Freight TSI rose 0.2% in the April to June period after falling 0.2% in the first quarter.

June was also the third consecutive month in which the index reached the levels that had been attained prior to the weather-related downturn in the early part of the year, even though the June index was below the level reached in the previous two months.

Year-to-date freight shipments measured by the index were virtually unchanged in June compared to the end of 2013.

June 2014 freight shipments were up 2.8% from June 2013

Freight shipments are up 24.1% in the five years from the post-recession level of June 2009 and are up 7.5% in the 10 years from June 2004. 

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