Freight index falls to lowest level in more than 5 years

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The Freight Transportation Services Index fell 2.3 percent in January from its December level, falling for the third consecutive month to its lowest level in more than five years, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported today, March 11.

The January decline was the fifth monthly decrease in six months. The index has declined 7.7 percent in the last six months, the largest six-month decline since an 8.4 percent decline in 1995. The 5.9 percent decline from November through January was the largest three-month decline since April 2000.

The 2.3 percent decline in January was the second January decline in five years and the largest January decline since 1996; the index dropped 0.3 percent in January 2007. At 102.7 in January, the Freight TSI is at its lowest level since May 2003 when it was 102.5 and is down 9.2 percent from its historic peak of 113.1 reached in November 2005.

The 7.8 percent decline from January 2008 to January 2009 left the freight index at its lowest January level since 2002. The 2.3 percent decline in January resulted in a 3.5 percent drop in the freight index in the five years from January 2004, the second five-year decline in the 19-year history of TSI data; the first ever five-year decline was a 2.7 percent decrease from December 2003 to December 2008. The index is still up 2.9 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.