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Freight Shipments Fell 0.2% in June from May

August 14, 2013

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The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry fell 0.2% in June from May, declining after a one month increase, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Freight Transportation Services Index.

The June 2013 index level (113.8) was 20% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.
 
BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in June measured by the Freight TSI (113.8) was 1.2% below the all-time high level of 115.2 in December 2011.

 
The May index was revised to 114.1 from 114.3 in the previous release. Monthly numbers for each month from December through March were also revised, showing slightly lower index levels.
 
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 decrease of 0.2% in June freight transportation was driven by a decline in rail carloads and pipeline shipments. Coal and grain were the weakest commodities for rail carloads. Trucking, rail intermodal (a separate measure from rail carloads), and water were stable, while air freight grew.
 
Trend: The Freight TSI remained above its 2012 range for the sixth month in a row, despites the June decline. It declined slightly over the second quarter of 2013, dropping 0.1 percent in June from its level of 113.9 in March 2013, the first decline over a full quarter since September 2012. After dipping to 94.8 in April 2009, the index rose 20 percent in the succeeding 50 months. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.
 
Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in June 2013 (113.8) were 20% higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.9). The June 2013 level is down 1.2% from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (115.2).
 
Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were up 1.4% in June compared to the end of 2012.
 
Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 3.2% in the five years from the recession level of June 2008 and are up 10.5% in the 10 years from June 2003.
 
Same month of previous year: June 2013 freight shipments were up 1.8% from June 2012.
 
2nd quarter changes: The Freight TSI fell 0.1% in the second quarter, the first quarterly decline since the third quarter of 2012.  

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