Freight index suffers biggest monthly decline in five years

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The Freight Transportation Services Index fell 3.2 percent in August to 108.1 from the July level of 111.7, turning down for the third consecutive month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported Friday, Oct. 6. It was the biggest monthly decline in the freight index since September 2001.

The Freight TSI fell from 112.0 in August 2005 to 108.1 in August 2006, the first decline from August of the previous year since 2001 and the largest August-to-August decline in the period covered by the index. For the first eight months of 2006, the Freight TSI has fallen 2.6 percent, the first decline in the December-to-August period since 2003 but the biggest decline in the period since 2000.

The overall index, which also include passenger transportation data, fell 2.5 percent in August to 108.7 from its July level of 111.5, also the largest monthly decline in five years. The 2.5 percent decline from July to August is the biggest monthly decline since the index dropped 9.3 percent in September 2001. The decline in August was the third consecutive monthly decline, the longest string of monthly declines since five consecutive monthly declines ending in October 2005.

For the first eight months of 2006, the TSI has fallen fell 1.6 percent, the first December-to-August decline since 2003; it was the biggest decline in the eight-month period in at least a decade. The August level was 2.2 percent lower than the August 2005 level, the first decline from August of the previous year since August 2002.

TSI is a single seasonally-adjusted index of the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire transportation industries, including railroad, air, truck, inland waterways, pipeline and local transit. The index includes historic data from 1990 to the present. The baseline year is 2000.