The latest reading on freight movements in the U.S. shows the amount carried by the for-hire transportation industry was virtually unchanged in December from November, failing to rise after five consecutive months of increases, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Its Freight Transportation Service Index registered 123.8 in December, just shy of the all-time high level of 123.9 hit the month before, while November was revised upward from an originally reported level of 123.3. July, September and October indexes were also revised up while the August index was revised down.
Compared to December 2013 the Freight TSI gained 4.2% in the final month of last year was 30.9% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.
According to the report, trucking, rail carloads, and waterborne freight traffic grew in December but air freight, pipeline, and rail intermodal decreased, resulting in the overall freight index remaining almost level.
The fourth quarter of 2014 represented the second consecutive quarter of rapid growth after stability in the first half of the year. The third and fourth quarters of 2014 were the first two consecutive quarters with growth above 1.5% since the first quarter of 2010.
The Freight TSI rose 0.1% in the first quarter of 2014, fell 0.1% in the second quarter, rose 2.4% in the third quarter and rose 1.7% in the fourth quarter of 2014.
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.