The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) recently reported that its Freight Transportation Services Index headed up 1.3% in October, the most recent month for which data is available.
According to BTS officials, the Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments in ton-miles, which are then 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 airfreight.
BTS officials said that October’s was broad based with increases in trucking, water, pipeline and air freight, however both rail carloads and rail intermodal declined. And it added that the Freight TSI increase took place against a background of mixed results for other indicators, including: the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production Index declined in October, reflecting decreases in all major industry groups; Personal income increased by less than 0.1%, while housing starts increased by 3.8%; and The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing index increased 0.5 points to 48.3, indicating contraction in the manufacturing sector but not as much contraction as in September.
October’s Freight TSI reading, at 138.6, is the fourth highest on record and is 1% below the all-time high of 140.0 set in August 2019 and represents the highest monthly increase since September 2018.
BTS said that October’s Freight TSI reading was up 46.2% compared to the 94.8 reading from April 2009, during the recession, with for-hire freight shipments up 13.3% from October 2014 and are up 4% going back to October 2009. Compared to October 2018, the October 2019 Freight TSI is up 0.5%.
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