Freight Transportation Services Index, May 2009 - May 2014. Credit: U.S. DOT

Freight Transportation Services Index, May 2009 - May 2014. Credit: U.S. DOT

The amount of freight carried by the U.S. for-hire transportation industry rose 0.6 percent in May from April, rising for the fourth consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Freight Transportation Services Index released Thursday.

The May 2014 index level of 120 reached a new all-time high level, exceeding the previous high of 119.4 in November 2013 and was 26.9% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. Freight TSI records go back to 2000.

May 2014 freight shipments were up 3.8 percent from May 2013.

The April index was revised to 119.3 from 117.6 in last month’s release. Previous monthly numbers were also revised higher.

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 May increase in the freight index was led by trucking, which grew rapidly for the fourth month in a row, as well as by increases in pipeline and waterborne, according to DOT.

“Growth in trucking occurred across different segments of the trucking sector, including dry van trucks as well as flatbed and tank trucks. Rail intermodal declined after three months of increases,” said DOT. “The freight index has now risen for four consecutive months following a bottom in January that was largely weather-related and affected the entire economy, as measured by the gross domestic product decline in the January-to-March period.”