Monthly freight index at lowest level in 12 years

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The Freight Transportation Services Index fell 0.6 percent in May from its April level, declining for the third consecutive month to the lowest level in 12 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported Thursday, July 9. However, the May decline was the smallest of the three consecutive decreases.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the May decrease was the ninth decline in the Freight TSI in the last 10 months, and that the index has declined 14.8 percent in that 10-month period. The May Freight TSI of 94.0 is the lowest level since June 1997 when it was 92.4.

The Freight TSI is down 16.7 percent from its historic peak of 112.9 reached in May 2006. The 6.3 percent decline in the first five months of 2009 was the largest in the last decade, exceeding the 5.3 percent decline for the first five months of 2000.

The 14.8 percent decline in the Freight TSI from May 2008 to May 2009 was the largest May-to-May decline in the 20 years for which the TSI is calculated. The freight index is also down 14.6 percent in the five years from May 2004, the sixth consecutive month in which the index declined for a five-year period. The index is down 8.4 percent in 10 years for the fifth-ever and the largest 10-year decline in the 20-year history of TSI data; all five of these 10-year declines took place in first five months of 2009.

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.