February freight index up 2% from January, down 6% from last year

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The Freight Transportation Services Index rose 2.0 percent in February from its January level, rising from its lowest level in more than five years, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported today, April 8.

The February increase was only the second since August and, at 2.0 percent, was the largest one-month rise since January 2008 and the fourth-largest in the last five years. But the 0.3 percent decline in the first two months of 2009 was the third decline to start the year in the last four years; the index rose 2.9 percent during the first two months of 2008.

Other than the January low of 102.7, the Freight TSI has not been this low since September 2003 when it was 104.4. The Freight TSI is down 7.4 percent from its historic peak of 113.1 reached in November 2005. The 6.0 percent decline from February 2008 to February 2009 left the index at its lowest February level since 2003.

Despite the February increase to 104.8, the index is down 4.4 percent in the five years from February 2004, the third five-year decline in the 19-year history of TSI data; the first-ever five-year decline was from December 2003 to December 2008. However, the index is still up 3.1 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.