Monthly freight index up 1.6% in July; year-to-year down 13.5%

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The Freight Transportation Services Index rose 1.6 percent in July from its June level, the first monthly increase since February and the largest increase since January 2008, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported today, Sept. 10.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the Freight TSI declined in nine of the last 12 months, but has remained steady or increased in the last two. The July Freight TSI of 95.5 is a 1.6 percent increase from the recent low of 94.0 reached in May and June; during those two months, the index was at its lowest level since June 1997.

The Freight TSI is down 15.4 percent from its historic peak of 112.9 reached in May 2006. The 4.8 percent decline in the first seven months of 2009 was the second-largest in the last decade, exceeded only by the 5.9 percent decline for the first seven months of 2000.

The July Freight TSI of 95.5 is at its lowest July level since 1997 when it was 94.8. The 13.5 percent decline in the Freight TSI from July 2008 to July 2009 was the largest July-to-July decline in the 20 years for which the TSI is calculated.

The freight index is also down 13.3 percent in the five years from July 2004, the 10th consecutive month in which the index declined for a five-year period. The index is down 6.4 percent in 10 years for the seventh-ever 10-year decline in the 20-year history of TSI data; all these 10-year declines took place in first seven months of 2009.

“The rise in the freight index for the first time since February is a sign that the economic recovery is beginning,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Between the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the ‘cash for clunkers’ program and other actions this administration has taken, I am hopeful that the economy is starting to turn around. However, despite this tangible sign of progress, we all know that we still have a long way to go. We will redouble our efforts to make sure transportation infrastructure is one of the drivers for the future.”

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.