The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported this week that its Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) saw a 0.9% increase from June to July, the most recent month for which data is available, for a new all-time high.
According to BTS officials, the Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments in ton-miles, which are then combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and airfreight.
July’s Freight TSI reading, at 139.0, followed two months of declines-with May and June down 0.1% and 0.3%, respectively- on the way to setting a new record reading, topping the previous high of 138.7 recorded in November 2018 by 0.2%. On an annual basis, the July Freight TSI is up 2.9%, down from a 6% annual gain from July 2017 to July 2018, with 2018 being the best year for freight levels in a number of years. And July’s reading was up 46.6% compared to the all-time low of 94.8 recorded during the recession in April 2009. On a year-to-date basis through July, the Freight TSI is up 2.1% annually.
BTS said that July’s increase was “broad-based,” with increases in rail carloads, rail intermodal, trucking, pipeline and airfreight. Water transportation saw a slight decline.
The new record Freight TSI reading came at a time, when the index has seen gains in only four of the last eight months going back to November 2018.