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  September 18th, 2017 | Written by

Freight Index Reaches Another All-Time High

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  • Third month in a row in which freight index exceeded all months prior to 2017.
  • Employment and personal income both increased in July, while Fed industrial index grew by 0.4 percent.
  • Housing starts declined in July.

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, reached an all-time high in July, rising 1.4 percent in July from June, after a one month decline, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). The July 2017 index level (128.2) was 35.4 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.

The level of for-hire freight shipments in July measured by the Freight TSI (128.2) reached its all-time high, 0.7 percent above the previous high reached in May (127.3) July was the third month in 2017 in which the freight index reached an all-time high. During the first seven months of 2017, the freight index averaged 2.9 percent higher than the first seven months of 2016. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000.

The June index was revised to 126.4 from 126.2 in last month’s release. Monthly numbers for April and May were also revised up slightly.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in for-hire freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are 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 air freight. The TSI is seasonally-adjusted to remove regular seasons from month-to-month comparisons.

The July increase in the Freight TSI was driven by gains in trucking, pipeline and water, while rail carloads decreased and air freight and rail intermodal were stable. The increase took place against a background of growth in several other indicators in July. Employment and Personal Income both increased, while the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index grew by 0.4 percent, with gains in mining and utilities even as the manufacturing index was down. The Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers’ Index showed positive but slowing growth. However, housing starts declined in July.

The Freight TSI reached a new all-time high of 128.1 in July –1.4 percent above the previous month, 0.7 percent higher than the previous all-time high set just two months earlier in May, and 2.7 percent above the level of July 2016, the highest level prior to 2017. July was the third month in a row in which the Freight TSI exceeded the level of all months prior to 2017, and the fourth month in 2017 when it did. Since July 2016, the Freight TSI has reached or exceeded the level of 124.3 (which it did not reach until July 2016) in nine months out of 13, and in all months from December 2016 on. The July index was 35.4 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Year to date: For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were up 2.8 percent in July compared to the end of 2016.

For-hire freight shipments are up 13.2 percent in the five years from July 2012 and are up 17.9 percent in the 10 years from July 2007.

July 2017 for-hire freight shipments were up 2.7 percent from July 2016 (124.8), which had been the all-time high prior to 2017.