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.
September’s Freight TSI reading, at 136.6, saw a 0.1% annual decline, which was well off from the 7.2% annual gain from September 2017 to September 2018. And it was 2.5% below the all-time high of 140.1 (which was revised from an original reading of 140.6) recorded in August of this year.
The Freight TSI September decrease of 2.5% was broad based, driven by significant declines in water, rail carloads, trucking, pipeline and air freight, while rail intermodal increased modestly, noted BTS. And it added that the TSI decline took place against a background of decline in other indicators, including the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production Index falling 0.4% in September reflecting decreases in mining and manufacturing and an increase in utilities, while housing starts declined by 9.4%, and the ISM’s manufacturing index falling 1.3 points to 47.8, indicating contraction in manufacturing.
BTS said that the 2.5% decline from August to September marks the largest single month-to-month decline going back to January 2012, with the Freight TSI at its lowest level since last February but still above any level it had reached before the high of September 2018 and in all but three months prior to January 2019.
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