The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry fell 1% in December from November, declining after a one-month rise, according to new U.S. Department of Transportation figures, but activity is still healthy.
Its Freight Transportation Services Index shows the December level of 116.5 was 23% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. Also the level of freight shipments in December measured by the index was the second highest all-time level and 1% below the all-time high level of 117.7 in November 2013.
The November index number, released last month as 116.5, was revised upward to 117.7, while the months from January through October 2013 were all revised downward in the range between 0.4 and 0.6. points.
Year-to-date freight shipments measured by the index increased 4.4% in December compared to the end of 2012, the fourth year in the last five in which the index was higher in December than in the previous year. The only decline was in 2012.
Freight shipments are up 16.2% in the five years from the recession level of December 2008 and are up 7.8% in the 10 years from December 2003.
The index measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. It also measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.