Monthly freight index up 0.2% in April

| June 15, 2012

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.2 percent in April from March, rising after a one-month decline, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Freight Transportation Services Index released Wednesday, June 13. The April level was 16.2 percent above the April 2009 low during the recession.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments measured by the Freight TSI, 109.6, declined 3.8 percent from December 2011’s revised mark of 114.0, which was the all-time high since 1990 when BTS’ Freight TSI records began. The Freight TSI has shown little change since dropping in January from its December peak, and its recent plateauing since January appears to reflect slowing growth in the general economy.

Nevertheless, freight shipments in April were at the fourth-highest level since the early recession month of July 2008. After dipping to a recent low in April 2009 (94.3) during the recession when freight shipments were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3), freight shipments have increased in 24 of the last 36 months.

April freight shipments rose 2.0 percent from April 2011 but remain below the level in April 2008 (110.3) prior to the recession. Freight shipments are up 0.4 percent in the five years from the pre-recession level of April 2007 and up 10.0 percent in the 10 years from April 2002 despite declines in recent years.

The Freight TSI 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 baseline year is 2000.

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