The amount of freight carried by the nation’s for-hire transportation industry rose 1.2% in November from October, rebounding from a one-month decline to reach its highest all-time level, according to a new U.S. Department of Transportation report.

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2008-November 2013. Credit: U.S. DOT

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2008-November 2013. Credit: U.S. DOT

The November 2013 Freight Transportation Services Index level of 116.5 was 22.8% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession and exceeds the previous high of 115.4 in September 2013. Records go back to 2000.

The October index was revised upward to 115.1 from 114.3 in last month’s release. Monthly numbers for May through September were also revised up from last month’s release.

The 1.2% increase in November freight transportation after a small dip in October was a return to the growth that has characterized the second half of 2013, says the DOT. “The November rise was a result of increases in all modes except pipeline. Growth in tonnage intensive industries such as heavy construction and oil and gas fracking produced an increase in truck tonnage. Both trucking and rail benefitted from growing auto production.”

The Freight TSI remained above its 2012 range for the 11th month in a row. Beginning with January, every month in 2013 has exceeded the high point of 2012, 112.2 reached in December. After dipping to 94.9 in April 2009, the index rose 22.8% in the succeeding 55 months.

Year to date freight shipments measured by the index were up 3.8% higher in November compared to the end of 2012.

Freight shipments are up 11.3% in the five years from the recession level of November 2008 and are up 9.6% in the 10 years from November 2003.

Compared to the same month a year ago, November 2013 freight shipments were up 5.2% from November 2012.

The freight transportation index consists of for-hire trucking, railroad (including rail based intermodal shipments such as containers on flat cars),
inland waterway, pipeline transportation and air freight.