Freight Index Rises

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 1.5% in April from March, rising for the second consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). From March 2018 to March 2019, the index rose only 2.8% compared to 7.9% for the previous year.

The level of for-hire freight shipments in April measured by the Freight TSI (138.4) was 0.2% below the all-time high level of 138.7 in November 2018. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000.

The Index is based on freight across all modes and doesn’t breakout the numbers, though freight by truck and semi-trailer are responsible for the majority of freight in the U.S. However, the growth in the past month appears mostly to come from rail.

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 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.