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BTS - Bureau of Transportation Statistics

06/12/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/12/2019 10:16

April 2019 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

The March index was revised to 136.4 from 136.2 in last month's release. Monthly numbers for January through March remain unchanged.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in for-hire freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which 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 TSI is seasonally-adjusted to remove regular seasons from month-to-month comparisons.

Analysis: The April increase in the Freight TSI was driven by increases in in rail carloads, rail trucking, and water, while air freight, pipeline and rail intermodal declined. The TSI increase took place against a background of mixed results for other indicators. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index decreased by 0.5% in February, with declines in manufacturing and utilities and an increase in mining. Personal income increased by 0.5%, while housing starts grew by 0.6%. The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing index declined to 52.8, indicating continued but decelerating growth.

Trend: The index reached its second highest all-time level (138.4) in April following two consecutive monthly increases that totaled a 2.1% rise. It was exceeded only by the level of 138.7 in November 2018. The 1.5% rate of increase from March to April was the fastest since February 2018 and the fourth time TSI has grown by 1.2% or more since January 2018. The index has increased in nine of the last 12 months for a total increase of 2.8% over its level of one year ago in April 2018. The index was up 11.0% from April 2017 and 13.2% from April 2016. The April index was 46.0% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: For-hire freight shipments in April 2019 (138.4) were 46.0% higher than the low in April 2009 during the recession (94.8). The April 2019 level was 0.2% below the historic peak reached in November 2018 (138.7) (Table 1A).

Year to date: For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were up 1.6% in April compared to the end of 2018 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: For-hire freight shipments are up 14.9% in the five years from April 2014 and are up 46.0% in the 10 years from April 2009 (Table 5).

Same month of previous year: April 2019 for-hire freight shipments were up 2.8% from April 2018 (Tables 4, 5).

The TSI has three seasonally-adjusted indexes that measure changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. The three indexes are freight shipments, passenger travel and a combined measure that merges the freight and passenger indexes. See Seasonally-Adjusted Transportation Data for numbers for individual modes. TSI includes data from 2000 to the present. Release of the May 2019 index is scheduled for July 11.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers fell 0.6% in April from its March level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI April 2019 level of 133.4 was 3.2% above the April 2018 level (Table 7). The index is up 11.4% in five years and up 20.8% in 10 years (Table 5). The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in travel that involves the services of the for-hire passenger transportation sector. The seasonally-adjusted index consists of data from air, local transit and intercity rail.

Combined Index: The combined freight and passenger TSI rose 0.8% in April from its March level (Table 8). The combined TSI April 2019 level of 136.8 was 2.9% above the April 2018 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 13.7% in five years and up 37.6% in 10 years (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: Monthly data has changed from previous releases due to the use of concurrent seasonal analysis, which results in seasonal analysis factors changing as each month's data are added.

BTS research has shown a clear relationship between economic cycles and the Freight and Passenger Transportation Services Indexes. See a study of this relationship using smoothed and detrended TSI data. Researchers who wish to compare TSI over time with other economic indicators, can use the FRED database , which includes freight, passenger and combined TSI, and which makes it possible to easily graph TSI alongside the other series in that database. See TSI data on FRED .

A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.