WASHINGTON — The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, decreased 0.6 percent in April from March, falling for the second consecutive month after reaching an all-time high in February, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS).
The April 2017 index level at 122.8 was 29.7 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.
The April figure was 2.3 percent below the all-time high level of 125.7 in February 2017.
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.
In an analysis, BTS said the April decrease was broad based, with declines in all freight transportation modes except air freight and trucking.
The decrease took place despite growth in other economic indicators in April.
The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production Index grew by 1 percent, with growth in manufacturing, mining and utilities.
Employment and Personal Income both grew in April. However, Housing Starts declined, while the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers’ Index showed positive but slowing growth.
As for a trend, BTS said after a period of 32 months beginning in April 2014 and continuing to November 2016 when the index, with only one exception, fluctuated between 119.6 and 123.4, the Freight TSI then reached or exceeded 124.0 for three months in succession but has now fallen below 123.6 for two months.
The two-month decline represents the third time the index has decreased for two months in succession since the beginning of 2015, though it represents a more modest decrease than that of August/September 2016.
For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were down 1.4 percent in April compared to the end of 2016.
For-hire freight shipments are up 9.9 percent in the five years from April 2012 and are up 11.3 percent in the 10 years from the pre-recession level of April 2007.
The TSI has three seasonally-adjusted indexes that measure changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000.