August 2019 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

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U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC  20590
http://www.dot.gov/briefingroom
 

BTS Data


BTS 42-19
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Contact: Dave Smallen
Tel:  202-366-5568

                                                                                                                  

August 2019 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

 

TSI Aug 2019 Infographic

 

 

 

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 1.4% in August from July, rising to a new all-time high with the second consecutive monthly increase, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). From August 2018 to August 2019, the index rose 4.1% compared to a rise of 5.5% from August 2017 to August 2018 (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

 

TSI Fig 1 August 2018

 

 

The level of for-hire freight shipments in August measured by the Freight TSI (140.6) reached its all-time high (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The July index was revised to 138.7 from 139.0 in last month’s release.  The June index was 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.

Analysis: The August Freight TSI increase was broad based, with increases in all sectors except the rail components – carloads and intermodal. The TSI increase took place against a background of mixed results for other indicators. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production Index grew in August, with increases in mining, manufacturing and utilities. Personal income increased by 0.4%, while housing starts grew by 12.3%. The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing index decreased 2.1 points to 49.1, indicating contraction in the manufacturing sector.

Trend: The August increase of 1.4% brought TSI to a record high level. The August increase followed an increase in July, leaving TSI 2.0 % over its June level, and 1.3% over its previous record high in November 2018. The record high level was reached even though the index grew in only five of the nine months since November. From a low point in March 2016, the index climbed 12.8% until reaching a new high in May 2018. From that point, the index has exceeded its levels in all months prior to May 2018. The July 2019 index was 48.3% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: For-hire freight shipments in August 2019 (140.6) were 48.3% higher than the low in April 2009 during the recession (94.8). The August 2019 level reached its all-time high (Table 1A).

Year-to-date: For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were up 3.2% in August compared to the end of 2018 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: For-hire freight shipments are up 16.3% in the five years from August 2014 and are up 41.7% in the 10 years from August 2009 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: August 2019 for-hire freight shipments were up 4.1% from August 2018 (Tables 4, 5).

The TSI has three seasonally-adjusted indexes that measure changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. The three indexes are freight shipments, passenger travel and a combined measure that merges the freight and passenger indexes. See Seasonally-Adjusted Transportation Data for numbers for individual modes. TSI includes data from 2000 to the present. Release of the September 2019 index is scheduled for Nov. 14.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.1% in August from its July level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI August 2019 level of 134.6 was 2.7% above the August 2018 level (Table 7). The index is up 12.0% in five years and up 22.7% in 10 years (Table 5). The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in travel that involves the services of 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 rose 1.0% in August from its July level (Table 8). The combined TSI August 2019 level of 138.7 was 3.7% above the August 2018 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 14.8% in five years and up 35.4% in 10 years (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: Monthly data has changed from previous releases due to the use of concurrent seasonal analysis, which results in seasonal analysis factors changing as each month’s data are added.    

BTS research has shown a clear relationship between economic cycles and the Freight and Passenger Transportation Services Indexes. See a study of this relationship using smoothed and detrended TSI data. Researchers who wish to compare TSI over time with other economic indicators, can use the FRED database, which includes freight, passenger and combined TSI, and which makes it possible to easily graph TSI alongside the other series in that database. See TSI data on FRED.   

A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.

 

 

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes since February 2019
Percent Change from Previous Month
(Seasonally-Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)
 

Freight

Passenger

Combined

Index

Pct. Change 

Index

Pct. Change 

Index

Pct. Change 

February

135.7

-1.2

130.6

-0.2

134.1

-0.8

March

136.6

0.7

134.6

3.1

136.0

1.4

April

138.2

1.2

133.2

-1.0

136.6

0.4

May

138.1

-0.1

135.2

1.5

137.2

0.4

June

137.8

-0.2

134.5

-0.5

136.8

-0.3

July

138.7

0.7

134.4

-0.1

137.3

0.4

August

140.6

1.4

134.6

0.1

138.7

1.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

 

Table 1A: Annual High and Low Points in Freight Transportation Services Index, 2009-2019

Year

 

Month

Peak

Month

Bottom

2009

December

101.6

April

94.8

2015

August

123.0

December

120.3

2016

July

125.2

March

120.2

2017

December

132.3

January

123.7

2018

November

138.8

January

130.3

2019

(thru August)

August

140.6

February

135.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2016-2019
Percent change from previous month
 

2016

2017

2018

2019

 

% Change

% Change

% Change

% Change

January

1.4

-0.2

-1.5

0.8

February

-0.5

0.6

2.0

-1.2

March

-1.0

0.0

1.3

0.7

April

1.8

0.2

0.1

1.2

May

-0.7

0.0

0.7

-0.1

June

0.7

0.5

0.7

-0.2

July

2.3

1.8

-0.9

0.7

August

-1.9

0.3

-0.2

1.4

September

-1.0

-0.4

1.0

 

October

0.8

1.3

1.2

 

November

0.5

1.5

0.6

 

December

0.6

0.8

-1.9

 

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2016-2019

 

2016

2017

2018

2019

January

122.0

123.7

130.3

137.3

February

121.4

124.5

132.9

135.7

March

120.2

124.5

134.6

136.6

April

122.4

124.8

134.7

138.2

May

121.6

124.8

135.6

138.1

June

122.4

125.4

136.6

137.8

July

125.2

127.7

135.4

138.7

August

122.8

128.1

135.1

140.6

September

121.6

127.6

136.4

 

October

122.6

129.2

138.0

 

November

123.2

131.2

138.8

 

December

123.9

132.3

136.2

 

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2010-2019
Percent change to August from December of the previous year

Year

Freight

Passenger

Combined

2010

5.1

1.5

4.1

2011

1.7

-1.1

0.9

2012

-2.1

-0.1

-1.4

2013

3.9

1.4

3.1

2014

2.7

2.1

2.6

       

2015

-0.1

1.6

0.4

2016

2.1

-1.1

1.0

2017

3.4

0.9

2.6

2018

2.1

2.4

2.2

2019

3.2

3.0

3.2

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 4: Freight Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year
Percent Change in the August Freight TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

 

August Freight TSI

Percent change from same month previous year

2010

106.8

7.7

2011

110.6

3.6

2012

112.6

1.8

2013

116.6

3.6

2014

120.9

3.7

2015

123.0

1.7

2016

122.8

-0.2

2017

128.1

4.3

2018

135.1

5.5

2019

140.6

4.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 5: Transportation Services Indexes from Previous Years

Percent Change to 2019 (August to August)

Since August        . . .

Duration in years

Freight TSI Percent change to August 2019

Passenger TSI Percent change to August 2019

Combined TSI Percent change to August 2019

2018

1

4.1

2.7

3.7

2017

2

9.8

6.2

8.6

2016

3

14.5

9.3

12.8

2015

4

14.3

9.8

12.9

2014

5

16.3

12.0

14.8

2013

6

20.6

14.6

18.6

2012

7

24.9

16.4

22.1

2011

8

27.1

20.4

24.8

2010

9

31.6

20.1

27.8

2009

10

41.7

22.7

35.4

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2016-2019
Percent change from previous month
 

2016

2017

2018

2019

 

% Change

% Change

% Change

% Change

January

-0.3

0.9

-0.2

0.1

February

1.4

-1.2

1.1

-0.2

March

-2.5

0.4

-0.2

3.1

April

1.0

1.0

0.6

-1.0

May

0.2

-0.5

0.5

1.5

June

0.6

0.3

0.7

-0.5

July

-0.4

0.2

0.1

-0.1

August

-1.0

-0.2

-0.2

0.1

September

1.9

-2.3

-2.3

 

October

-1.5

3.0

2.5

 

November

1.0

0.6

0.1

 

December

0.6

-0.3

-0.5

 

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

  

Table 7: Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year
Percent change in the August Passenger TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

 

August Passenger TSI

Percent change from same month previous year

2010

112.1

2.2

2011

111.8

-0.3

2012

115.6

3.4

2013

117.5

1.6

2014

120.2

2.3

2015

122.6

2.0

2016

123.2

0.5

2017

126.7

2.8

2018

131.0

3.4

2019

134.6

2.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2016-2019
Percent change from previous month
 

2016

2017

2018

2019

 

% Change

% Change

% Change

% Change

January

0.8

0.2

-1.1

0.6

February

0.1

0.1

1.7

-0.8

March

-1.4

0.1

0.8

1.4

April

1.5

0.6

0.2

0.4

May

-0.3

-0.2

0.6

0.4

June

0.6

0.4

0.7

-0.3

July

1.4

1.3

-0.5

0.4

August

-1.6

0.2

-0.2

1.0

September

-0.1

-1.0

-0.1

 

October

0.1

1.8

1.6

 

November

0.7

1.2

0.4

 

December

0.6

0.5

-1.4

 

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 9: Combined Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year
Percent change in the August Combined TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

 

August Combined TSI

Percent change from same month previous year

2010

108.5

6.0

2011

111.1

2.4

2012

113.6

2.3

2013

116.9

2.9

2014

120.8

3.3

2015

122.9

1.7

2016

123.0

0.1

2017

127.7

3.8

2018

133.8

4.8

2019

138.7

3.7

 

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

 

Brief Explanation of the TSI

           

The Transportation Services Index (TSI) is a measure of the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire transportation industries.  The freight index measure changes in freight shipments while the passenger index measures changes in passenger travel.

The TSI tells us how the output of transportation services has increased or decreased from month to month. The index can be examined together with other economic indicators to produce a better understanding of the current and future course of the economy.   The movement of the index over time can be compared with other economic measures to understand the relationship of changes in transportation output to changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

           

The freight transportation index consists of:

For-hire trucking,
Railroad freight services (including rail based intermodal shipments such as containers on flat cars),
Inland waterways transportation,
Pipeline transportation (including principally petroleum and petroleum products and natural gas), and
Air freight.

 

The index does not include international or coastal waterborne movements, private trucking, courier services, or the US Postal Service.

 

The passenger transportation index consists of:

Local transit,
Intercity passenger rail, and
Passenger air transportation.

 

The index does not include intercity bus, sightseeing services, ferry services, taxi service, private automobile usage, or bicycling and other non-motorized transportation.

 

The TSI includes only domestic "for-hire" freight and passenger transportation. For-hire transportation consists of freight or passenger transport services provided by a firm to external customers for a fee. The TSI does not include taxi services, paid ride services in personal motor vehicles (e.g., Uber, Lyft, etc.), intercity bus services, in-house transportation (vehicles owned and operated by private firms for their own use), or noncommercial passenger travel (e.g., trips in the household car).