The Freight Transportation Services Index gained 1.6 percent in July from its June level, marking the first monthly increase since February and the largest boost since January 2008
, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

"The rise in the freight index for the first time since February is a sign that the economic recovery is beginning," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, in a statement. "Between the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the cash for clunkers program and other actions this administration has taken, I am hopeful that the economy is starting to turn around.

"However, despite this tangible sign of progress, we all know that we still have a long way to go. We will redouble our efforts to make sure transportation infrastructure is one of the drivers for the future."

While the Freight TSI has dropped during nine of the last 12 months, it has remained stable or increased in the last two months.

The Freight TSI landed at 95.5 in July, up from the recent low of 94 in May and June, when it reached its lowest level since June 1997. The index is down 15.4 percent from its historic peak of 112.9 in May 2006.

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 index is down 13.5 percent from July 2008 to July 2009, the largest July-to-July decrease in the 20 years for which the TSI is calculated.

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