The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry declined 1.5 percent in February from January, falling after two consecutive monthly increases, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Freight Transportation Services Index.

The DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that shipments measured by the Freight TSI rose 12.9 percent over the last 22 months, starting in May 2009, after falling 15.7 percent in the previous 16 months beginning in January 2008. Freight shipments have increased in 16 of the last 22 months. In February, freight shipments were at about the same level as in September 2008 when the amount of freight was early in the decline.

In January and February, freight shipments measured by the index were down 0.6 percent, trending down following a 6.4 percent rise in freight shipments for the full year 2010 and a 2.1 percent rise in during the final three months of 2010.

Although freight shipments rose 4.1 percent from February 2010 to February 2011, they remain below the recent high for the month of February reached in 2008.

The freight index is down 3 percent in the five years from February 2006. The index is up 7.7 percent in the 10 years from February 2001 despite recent declines.

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.