Graphic: U.S. DOT

Graphic: U.S. DOT

The amount of freight moved by the nation’s for-hire transportation sector rose 0.5% in November from the month before, according to new Transportation Department figures.

This second consecutive monthly hike puts the Freight Transportation Services Index (Freight TSI) at a level of 123.2, just 1.2% below the all-time high level of 124.7 hit this past July and the second highest level since December 2014.

The October index was revised upward to 122.6 from 122 and the September index was adjusted higher from 120.8 to 121.1. Monthly numbers for July and August were revised up slightly as well.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in for-hire 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 November increase was broad as all freight modes grew from October, except for pipeline. According to the report, the November rise took place in the context of mixed signals in other economic indicators that often impact transportation – employment increased by 178,000 jobs, retail sales rose by 0.1%, and personal income grew by less than 0.1%, while the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index declined by 0.4%, and housing starts declined by 4.7% from October.

The 0.5% Freight TSI rise in November combined with the October increase of 1.2% brought the index to 1.7% above its September level, the low-point since March. Over the last 12 months the index rose in eight months and declined in four months, for a total increase of 2%.

For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were up 1.5% in November compared to the end of 2015 while November 2016 for-hire freight shipments were up 2% from November 2015.