Monthly freight index at lowest level since September 2003

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The Freight Transportation Services Index fell 2.3 percent in December from its November level, falling for the second consecutive month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported today, Feb. 11.

The December decline, the fourth monthly decrease in five months, dropped the freight index to a loss of 3.0 percent for 2008. The index was up 2.7 percent for the first seven months of the year but declined 5.5 percent in the final five months, the largest five-month decline since the period ending April 2000. The 2008 decline was the third consecutive annual decline and the largest since 2000.

At 105.1 in December, the Freight TSI is at its lowest level since September 2003 when it was 104.4 and is down 7.1 percent from its historic peak of 113.1 reached in November 2005. The decline from November to December dropped the freight index to its lowest year-end level since 2002.

The freight index dropped 2.7 percent in the five years from December 2003, the first such five-year decrease since January 1990, the starting date of the index. However, the index is still up 5.3 percent in 10 years.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire freight transportation industries, including trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight. It includes historic data from 1990 to the present. The baseline year is 2000.