Monthly freight index up 0.9% in September, year-to-year up 4.4%

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Updated Dec 2, 2011

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.9 percent in September from August, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Freight Transportation Services Index released on Wednesday, Nov.9. BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments has risen 4.2 percent in the last four months. Shipments in September (109.6 on the index) were at the highest level since July 2008 (109.9), which was followed by six straight months of decline.

Freight shipments in September have risen 16.2 percent from the recent low in April 2009 (94.3) when they were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3), and they have increased in 20 of the last 28 months. Shipments have risen 16.2 percent over the last 29 months starting from April 2009 after declining 15.5 percent from February 2008 to April 2009.

For the first nine months of 2011, freight shipments are up 2.5 percent. For the third quarter of 2011, the Freight TSI rose 1.2 percent following one quarterly decline. The index has risen in eight of the last nine quarters.

Although September freight shipments rose 4.4 percent from September 2010 and 11.9 percent from September 2009, they remain below the all-time high for the month of September (111.2) reached in 2006 and are down 3.3 percent from the historic freight shipment peak reached in January 2005. Freight shipments are down 1.4 percent in the five years from September 2006 and are up 11.8 percent in the 10 years from September 2001 despite declines in recent years.

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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