The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry in the U.S. rose 0.4% in August from July, rising for the second consecutive month to reach the second highest level in the history of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Freight Transportation Services Index which goes back to 2000.

Credit: U.S. DOT

Credit: U.S. DOT

The new report from this part of the U.S. Transportation Department shows the August index level of 114.8 was 21% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.

The level of freight shipments in August was 0.3% below the all-time high level of 115.2 in December 2011.

August 2013 freight shipments were up 3.4 percent from August 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.

The Freight TSI has increased in eight out of the last 10 months, growing from 108.4 to 114.8, an increase of 5.9% since October 2012. Most of the increase was in trucking and rail intermodal.

The DOT says the 10-month growth is consistent with steady growth in gross domestic product, industrial production and employment over the same time period. The growth in the economy has come particularly from housing, autos and energy, sectors that generate relatively large amounts of freight tonnage.

The Freight TSI remained above its 2012 range for the eighth month in a row. Beginning with January, every month in 2013 has exceeded the high point of 2012, 112.3 reached in December.

Freight shipments measured by the index were up 2.2 percent in August compared to the end of 2012.