Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2012 - November 2017. Graphic: U.S. DOT

Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2012 - November 2017. Graphic: U.S. DOT

The amount of freight moved by the U.S. for-hire transportation industry hit a second consecutive all-time high in November, according to new Transportation Department figures.

Its Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) rose 0.2% from October to a reading of 130.8. When November is compared to the same time a year earlier, the index posted a 5.8% gain.

The October index was revised upward to 130.5 from 129.2 in last month’s release. Monthly numbers for April through September were also revised up slightly while March was revised down slightly.

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.

Notable increases in trucking, rail carloads, rail intermodal, and air freight led the November increase while water and pipeline freight declined, according to the report. The TSI increase took place against a background of strong results in other economic indicators.

The Federal Reserve Board’s Industrial Production index rose by 0.2% in November, with increases in manufacturing and mining. Employment rose, personal income grew and housing starts increased. The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing index declined to 58.2, indicating positive but decelerating growth.

The Freight TSI’s new all-time high in November is 4.7% above the level of July 2016 which was the highest level prior to 2017. November was the sixth all-time high in 2017. The seven months from May to November 2017 were the seven highest levels the Freight TSI has ever attained. The Freight TSI was at or above 124 in every month of 2017, a level it reached in only two months prior to 2017.

Evan Lockridge

Evan Lockridge

Business Contributing Editor

Trucking journalist since 1990, in the news business since early ‘80s.