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DOT freight index up 1.2 percent in January

The Freight TSI increase in January 2013 was the third consecutive month of growth with trucking showing a large increase. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

3/13/2013

WASHINGTON — The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 1.2 percent in January from December, rising for the third consecutive month, according to the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released Wednesday.

The January 2013 index level (111.3) was 18.0 percent above the April 2009 low during the recession and the highest level since December 2011.

BTS, a part of the Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in January measured by the Freight TSI (111.3) was 2.4 percent below the all-time high level of 114.0 in December 2011.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in 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 Freight TSI increase in January 2013 was the third consecutive month of growth with trucking showing a large increase.

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The TSI increase in January likely resulted from inventory growth, the BTS said, adding that wholesale inventories grew 1.2 percent during the month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Monthly Wholesale Trade report. The restocking followed the drawdown of inventories in the fourth quarter of 2012.

With the January increase to 111.3, the index rose above the narrow band in which it remained through most of 2012.

The exception was a drop in October (107.1) as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

The index began 2013 in January at 111.3, the second highest level since April 2009. After dipping to 94.3 in April 2009 during the recession, freight shipments increased in 30 of the last 45 months, rising 18.0 percent during that period.

Freight shipments in January 2013 were 18 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.3).

In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3). The January 2013 level is down 2.4 percent from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (114.0).

Freight shipments measured by the index were up 1.2 percent in January compared to the end of 2012. In comparison, the index declined 3.6 percent during the same period a year earlier in 2012.

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are down 0.5 percent in the five years from its level at the beginning of the recession in January 2008 and are up 7.8 percent in the 10 years from January 2003 despite declines in recent years.

Same month of previous year: January 2013 freight shipments were up 1.3 percent from January 2012, but rose 14.6 percent from January 2009 during the recession. Shipments measured by the index remained below the level of January 2005 (113.3) prior to the recession.

The TSI has three seasonally adjusted indexes that measures 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. TSI includes historical data from 1990 to the present. Release of the February index is scheduled for April 10.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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JB Hunt