Freight index down 1.5 percent in February, year-to-year up 4.1 percent

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The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry declined 1.5 percent in February from January, falling after two consecutive monthly increases, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Freight Transportation Services Index released Wednesday, April 13.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that shipments measured by the Freight TSI rose 12.9 percent over the last 22 months, starting in May 2009, after declining 15.7 percent in the previous 16 months beginning in January 2008. Freight shipments have increased in 16 of the last 22 months. In February 2011, freight shipments were at about the same level as in September 2008 when the amount of freight was early in the decline.

For the first two months of 2011, freight shipments were down 0.6 percent, trending down following a 6.4 percent rise in freight shipments for the full year 2010 and a 2.1 percent rise in during the final three months of 2010. Freight shipments in February (106.5 on the index) rose 12.9 percent from the recent low in April 2009 (94.3) when freight shipments were at their lowest level since July 1997. The historic freight shipment peak was reached in January 2005 (113.3).

Although freight shipments rose 4.1 percent from February 2010 to February 2011, they remain below the recent high for the month of February (111.6) reached in 2008. December 2009 was the first month since September 2008 in which shipments measured by the Freight TSI exceeded the level of the same month of the previous year. Since then, shipments have exceeded the previous year’s level every month, but they still remain below the level of years before the most recent year. The freight index is down 3.0 percent in the five years from February 2006. The index is up 7.7 percent in the 10 years from February 2001 despite recent declines.

The Freight TSI 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. The seasonally adjusted index includes historic data from 1990 to the present. The baseline year is 2000.

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