Freight index unchanged in May, year-to-year up 4.3%

| July 11, 2012

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry was unchanged in May from April after a one-month rise, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Freight Transportation Services Index released Wednesday, July 11.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that May’s level of freight shipments declined 3.8 percent from December 2011’s all-time-high level of 114.0. Freight shipments have shown little change since dropping in January, reflecting slowing growth in the general economy.

However, the May index level of 109.6 was the fifth-highest monthly level since the early recession month of July 2008. After dipping to a recent low in April 2009 (94.3) during the recession, freight shipments have increased in 24 of the last 37 months, rising 16.3 percent during that period.

May freight shipments rose 4.3 percent from May 2011 and 16.0 percent from May 2009, during the recession, but remain below the level in May 2008 (110.2) prior to the recession. Freight shipments are up 1.0 percent in the five years from the pre-recession level of May 2007 and up 8.9 percent in the 10 years from May 2002.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation in ton-miles, which then 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 seasonally adjusted index includes historic data from 1990 to the present. The baseline year is 2000.

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