Monthly freight index unchanged, year-over-year down 4.1%

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The Freight Transportation Services Index was unchanged in December from its November level after one monthly increase, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported Thursday, Feb. 18. BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that though the Freight TSI declined 4.1 percent during 2009, the index increased 2.9 percent over the last seven months of the year, beginning in June.

The December Freight TSI of 96.2 is a 2.9 percent increase from the recent low of 93.5 reached in May, when the index was at its lowest level since June 1997. However, the Freight TSI is down 14.8 percent from its historic peak of 112.9 reached in May 2006. With the 4.1 percent decline in 2009 following an 8.7 percent decline in 2008, the Freight TSI has declined 12.4 percent in two years. The freight index is also down 13.2 percent in the five years from December 2004, and down 8.4 percent in the 10 years from December 1999.

The December Freight TSI of 96.2 is the lowest for December since December 1996 when it was 89.1. The 4.1 percent decline in the Freight TSI from December 2008 to December 2009 was the fourth-largest annual decline in the 20 years for which the TSI is calculated. It was the third largest decline in the past decade, exceeded by declines in 2000 and 2008.

The Freight TSI is a seasonally adjusted index that measures the month-to-month output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight. It includes historic data from 1990 to the present. The baseline year is 2000.