Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2009 - November 2014. Graphic: U.S. DOT

Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2009 - November 2014. Graphic: U.S. DOT

A measure of the amount of freight moved by the nation’s entire for-hire transportation sector shows it rose 0.8% in November from the month before, the fifth consecutive monthly increase.

The U.S. Transportation Department’s Freight Transportation Services index registered 123.2, hitting a new all time high in a newly released report. Compared to the same time in 2013 November’s level is 3.5% higher.

The October index was revised downward to 121.8 from 122.2 in last month’s release, when it was reported then as hitting a new all-time high. All previous months in 2014 were revised slightly upward.

The growth in November was led by trucking, air freight, pipelines and waterway activity. During the month, several other indicators of related parts of the economy that often impact transportation increased, according to the DOT. Employment and retail sales both increased, as did manufacturing output and total industrial production. Inventories increased reaching an historic high. 

The November rise in the Freight TSI was the ninth monthly increase in 2014. However, due to the decline in June and the more substantial decline in January, the total 2014 increase has been only 3.5%, less than the 5.2% increase during same period in 2013.

Freight shipments in November 2014 were 30.2% higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession when the index hit 94.6. Freight shipments are also up 21.8% in the five years from the post-recession level of November 2009 and are up 10.1% in the 10 years from November 2004

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.