Monthly freight index up 0.9% in January, year-over-year up 6.9%

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Freight Index

The Freight Transportation Services Index rose 0.9 percent in January from a revised December level, rising for the second consecutive month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported Wednesday, March 9.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, said the newly revised Freight TSI rose 14.6 percent over the last 21 months, starting in May 2009, after declining 16.8 percent in the previous 16 months beginning in January 2008. The freight index has increased in 16 of the last 21 months, and in January 2011, the index returned to 108.1, the same level as in August 2008 when the index was early in the decline. The Freight TSI rose 6.4 percent in 2010 based on revised numbers, the largest annual increase in the Freight TSI since 2002.

The January Freight TSI of 108.1 is a 14.6 percent increase from the recent low of 94.3 reached in April 2009 when the index was at its lowest level since July 1997. However, the January Freight TSI is down 4.6 percent from its historic peak of 113.3 reached in January 2005. Although the index rose 6.9 percent from January 2010 to January 2011, it remains below the level of 111.8, a recent high for the month of January reached in 2008.

December 2009 was the first month since September 2008 in which the Freight TSI exceeded the level of the same month of the previous year. Since then, the index has exceeded the previous year’s level every month but still remains below the level of years before the most recent year. The freight index is down 3.0 percent in the five years from revised January 2006, but is up 8.9 percent in the 10 years from revised January 2001 despite recent declines.

The Freight TSI measures the 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.