Supply Chain News / Economic Development / Ground

April 2014 Freight Continues to Rise

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.4 percent in April from March, rising for the third consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI). The April 2014 index level (117.6) was 24.1 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.

The level of freight shipments in April measured by the seasonally-adjusted Freight TSI (117.6) was at the second highest all-time level and 0.1 percent below the all-time high level of 117.8 in November 2013 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000.

The March index was revised to 117.1 from 116.7 in last month’s release. Smaller upward revisions were made for December and January.

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 April increase in the freight index was led by trucking and rail intermodal, which grew rapidly for the third month in a row. Rail carload growth slowed after fast growth in March. The freight index has now risen for three consecutive months following a bottom in January that was largely weather-related and affected the entire economy, as measured by the GDP decline in the January-to-March period.

Trend: With three consecutive monthly increases, the index rose 3.0 percent following the weather-related low in January. In April, the index reached its second highest all-time level (117.6), almost returning to the all-time high (117.8) set in November before the winter decline. After dipping to 94.8 in April 2009, the index rose by 24.1 percent in the succeeding 60 months. 

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