Supply Chain News / Ground / Ocean

Freight Shipments Fell 2.8 Percent in January from December

Freight shipments have declined for the second consecutive month.

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry fell 2.8 percent in January from December, declining for the second consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI). The January 2014 index level (113.6) was 19.8 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.

BTS reported that the level of freight shipments in January measured by the Freight TSI (113.6) was 3.5 percent below the all-time high level of 117.6 in November 2013 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000.

The December index was revised to 116.8 from 116.5 in last month’s release. Monthly numbers for all of 2013 were revised slightly. Numbers for previous years were also revised.

Beginning with the April release, BTS improved procedures and refined the TSI methodology. As a result there have been minor changes in monthly numbers released previously. Documentation will be made available in the near future.

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.

Analysis: The index for each freight mode declined in January with the largest decline in trucking. These declines took place during a period of severe winter weather, which particularly hit the heavily populated parts of the country. Severe weather can affect the demand for goods to ship as well as the ability to move goods. The decline in freight TSI took place despite increases in employment and personal income in January. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production Index declined in January, with the construction sector leading the decline.

Trend: The freight TSI declined for the second month in a row, the first time it has fallen for two consecutive months since October 2012. It is at its lowest point since April 2013 but remains higher than in any month prior to March 2013, except for its previous high of December 2011. After dipping to 94.8 in April 2009, the index rose by 19.8 percent in the succeeding 57 months.

See Transportation Services Index for historical data and methodology.  

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