U.S. freight shipments, including trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight, increase 0.1% month-over-month in November, rise 4.9% year-over-year to reach second highest level since July 2008: U.S. DOT

WASHINGTON , January 11, 2012 (press release) – The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.1 percent in November from October, rising after one monthly decrease, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics' (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today (Table 1).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that at 109.5 the level of freight shipments, measured by the Freight TSI, declined slightly from the recent peak achieved in September, but still remained higher than any other month since July 2008 (Table 2A).

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation 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 air freight.

Trend: Shipments in November 2011 (109.5 on the index) were at the second highest level since July 2008 (109.9) after reaching the highest level in more than three years in September (109.6). July 2008, the previous high, was followed by six straight months of decline. After dipping to a recent low in April 2009 (94.3), freight shipments increased in 21 of the last 31 months, rising 16.1 percent during that period (Tables 2, 2A). For additional historic data, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

Year-to-date: For the first 11 months of 2011, freight shipments measured by the index were up 2.4 percent.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in November 2011 (109.5 on the index) rose 16.1 percent from the recent low in April 2009 (94.3). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3). The November 2011 level is down 3.4 percent from the historic freight shipment peak reached in January 2005 (113.3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 2.1 percent in the five years from November 2006 and up 12.0 percent in the 10 years from November 2001 despite declines in recent years (Table 5).

Same month of previous year: Although November 2011 freight shipments rose 4.9 percent from November 2010 and 9.4 percent from November 2009, they remain below the all-time high for the month of November (112.5) reached in 2005.

The TSI is a seasonally adjusted index that measures changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. It includes historic data from 1990 to the present. Release of the December index is scheduled for Feb. 8.

For a webinar on the TSI, see Past Webinars. For a video explanation of the TSI, see Overview of the Transportation Services Index. A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers fell 0.5 percent in November from its October level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI November 2011 level of 115.6 was 1.1 percent above the November 2010 level (Table 7). The index is up 2.2 percent in five years and up 32.7 percent in 10 years (Table 5).

The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in travel conducted in the for-hire passenger transportation sector. The seasonally adjusted index consists of data from air, local transit and intercity rail.

Combined Index: The combined freight and passenger TSI fell by less than 0.1 percent in November from its October level (Table 8). The combined TSI November 2011 level of 111.1 was 3.8 percent above the November 2010 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 2.2 percent in five years and up 17.5 percent in 10 years despite recent declines (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: TSI numbers for July (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The July Freight TSI is 107.6, revised from 108.3 reported in last month's release. The July Passenger TSI is 115.0, revised from 117.1. The July Combined TSI is 109.6, revised from 110.6. The TSI for August, September, October and November are preliminary.

TSI revision policy: TSI is updated monthly with the latest four months' index numbers considered preliminary. Each month BTS releases the latest preliminary TSI, and replaces the oldest preliminary TSI with a revised TSI. More information about the monthly revision policy, is available at http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml

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