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.
December’s 0.9% decrease to 135.5 marks the second consecutive decline, marking its lowest level going back to 2015. On an annual basis, the December Freight TSI is down 0.8%. And for the fourth quarter the Freight TSI dipped 1%, marking the second straight quarterly decline, in addition to the largest decline going back to the fourth quarter of 2015, when it was down 2.2%
BTS said that the level of for-hire freight shipments in December, at 135.5, is off 3.3% since hitting its all-time high level of 140.1 in August 2019 and is 42.9% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.
And BTS officials noted that December’s Freight TSI reading reflected significant declines in rail intermodal, rail carloads, trucking, and pipeline, while water and air freight increased.
“The TSI decline took place against a background of mixed results in other indicators,” BTS said. “The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production Index declined 0.3% in December reflecting a substantial decrease in utilities and increases in mining and manufacturing. Housing starts grew by 16.9%.
The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing index decreased 0.9 points to 47.2, indicating contraction in manufacturing for the fifth consecutive month. The ISM manufacturing index is based on a survey of 800 supply chain executives on production, orders, deliveries, and employment, while the Federal Reserve IP index is based on estimated physical output using a range of output measures that the Federal Reserve considers reliable. Comparisons between patterns in the ISM manufacturing and the Federal Reserve IP index should be done with caution.”
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