The index has dropped 4.3 percent in the past two months, to a level equal to the four-year low set in September 2007.
The big declines of the past two months dropped the freight index into negative territory for the year. For the first nine months of 2008, the index declined 0.3 percent, the fourth consecutive December-to-September decline. The index declined 0.8 percent in the first nine months of 2007 before rebounding in the last quarter to finish the year down 0.1 percent.
The September decline was the fifth largest monthly decline in the last 10 years, while the August decline of 1.9 percent ranked as the eighth largest. They were both exceeded by the March decline of 2.9 percent, the second largest in 10 years and the largest since a 4.1 percent decline in March 2000. At 108.0 in September, the freight TSI has returned to its recent low of 108.0 in September 2007 and is down 4.5 percent from its peak of 113.1 reached in November 2005.
The freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire freight transportation industries. The index consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.
The September 2008 freight TSI level was unchanged from the September 2007 level of 108.0. The last rise in the freight TSI on a September-to-September basis was between September 2004 and September 2005, when the index rose by 0.4 percent.
Despite the losses since 2004, the freight index has increased 3.5 percent in five years and 8.2 percent in 10 years.
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.
More info and data tables: www.bts.gov