Monthly freight index unchanged in July, year-over-year up 3.8%

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The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry remained the same in July as in June, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Freight Transportation Services Index released Wednesday, Sept. 14.

The level of freight shipments in July (108.3 on the index) remained at the second-highest level since August 2008, exceeded only by March and equaled by June. Although freight shipments rose 3.8 percent from July 2010, they remain below the level of July 2008 (109.9) and the all-time high for the month of July (110.9) reached in 2005.

Freight shipments have increased in 18 of the last 27 months, but only in eight of the last 15 months. Shipments rose 14.5 percent over the last 27 months, starting from the low point in May 2009, but after declining 15.5 percent in the previous 15 months, shipments remain below the January 2008 level. In July, freight shipments returned to about the same level as August 2008, which was the start of six straight months of decline.

For the first seven months of 2011, freight shipments were up 1.3 percent. Freight shipments in July rose 14.8 percent from the recent low in April 2009 (94.3) when they were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3). The July level is down 4.4 percent from the historic freight shipment peak reached in January 2005 (113.3). Freight shipments are down 2.3 percent in the five years from July 2006, but are up 10.0 percent in the 10 years from July 2001.

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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