Freight Transportation Services Index, February 2011 - February 2016. Graphic: U.S. DOT

Freight Transportation Services Index, February 2011 - February 2016. Graphic: U.S. DOT

Following two straight months of growth, the amount of freight moved by for-hire operations in the U.S. fell in February from the month before, due in part to a substantial decline in trucking, according to a Transportation Department report released Wednesday.

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) declined 0.7% to a reading 122.2 but is only 1.2% below the all-time high level of 123.7 in November 2014.The January index was revised upward to 123.1 from 122.2.

The February Freight TSI decrease was also due to significant decline in pipeline movements, and a smaller drop in rail intermodal, according to the department, while air freight, water, and rail carloads all increased.

“The TSI decrease paralleled a drop in the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index which declined by 0.5% in February, reversing its decline in January, with particular declines in mining and utilities,” the department said in a release. “The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Index, though it increased, was again below 50, indicating declining manufacturing activity. The value of manufacturers’ inventories decreased again in January, though inventory to sales ratios remained high.

Despite the overall decline, February freight shipments were up 1% from the same time a year earlier.

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.