The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.8% in September from August, rising for the third consecutive month to reach its highest all-time level, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Freight Transportation Services Index.
Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, September 2008-September 2013
The September 2013 index level (115.8) was 22.1% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.
BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that in reaching the all-time high of 115.8 in September, the Freight TSI rose 7% in the 11 months following a dip in October 2012.
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 0.8% increase in September freight transportation was driven by increases in all modes except rail carloads. The accelerating growth in each month of the third quarter of 2013 is consistent with Gross Domestic Product growth of 2.8% during those three months.
The TSI rise has continued since its low point in April 2009 despite some small downturns. The recovery showed growth across all modes, led by rail intermodal and truck. The only mode not to grow since the recession was Inland Waterborne. During the recovery, GDP increased by 10% while payroll employment increased somewhat more slowly at 3.8%.
Trend: The Freight TSI remained above its 2012 range for the ninth month in a row. Beginning with January, every month in 2013 has exceeded the high point of 2012, 112.2 reached in December. The September 2013 level is the highest TSI freight has been in 2013, and is the highest all-time level. After dipping to 94.8 in April 2009, the index rose 22.1 percent in the succeeding 53 months.