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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

November 2019 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

Thursday, January 9, 2020
Date: Thursday, January 9, 2020

 The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 0.1% in November from October, rising for the second consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). From November 2018 to November 2019, the index fell 0.8% compared to a rise of 5.8% from November 2017 to November 2018 (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

Freight Transportation Services Index, November 2014 - November 2019

Month Freight TSI 1
Nov-14 123.0 2
Dec-14 122.8 3
Jan-15 122.6 4
Feb-15 121.6 5
Mar-15 122.5 6
Apr-15 121.3 7
May-15 121.7 8
Jun-15 121.2 9
Jul-15 122.3 10
Aug-15 122.8 11
Sep-15 123.1 12
Oct-15 122.3 13
Nov-15 120.7 14
Dec-15 120.0 15
Jan-16 121.8 16
Feb-16 121.2 17
Mar-16 120.0 18
Apr-16 122.1 19
May-16 121.5 20
Jun-16 122.2 21
Jul-16 125.0 22
Aug-16 122.7 23
Sep-16 121.8 24
Oct-16 122.4 25
Nov-16 122.9 26
Dec-16 123.7 27
Jan-17 123.5 28
Feb-17 124.3 29
Mar-17 124.3 30
Apr-17 124.7 31
May-17 124.9 32
Jun-17 125.3 33
Jul-17 127.5 34
Aug-17 128.0 35
Sep-17 127.8 36
Oct-17 129.2 37
Nov-17 130.9 38
Dec-17 132.3 39
Jan-18 130.4 40
Feb-18 132.9 41
Mar-18 134.5 42
Apr-18 134.7 43
May-18 135.4 44
Jun-18 136.2 45
Jul-18 135.0 46
Aug-18 135.1 47
Sep-18 137.0 48
Oct-18 138.1 49
Nov-18 138.5 50
Dec-18 136.1 51
Jan-19 137.4 52
Feb-19 136.3 53
Mar-19 136.9 54
Apr-19 138.3 55
May-19 138.3 56
Jun-19 137.8 57
Jul-19 138.6 58
Aug-19 140.2 59
Sep-19 136.8 60
Oct-19 137.3 61
Nov-19 137.4 62
63
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The level of for-hire freight shipments in November measured by the Freight TSI (137.4) was 2.0% below the all-time high level of 140.2 in August 2019 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The October index was revised to 137.3 from 138.6 in last month’s release but still remains above September. August was revised up slightly and July was revised down 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 November Freight TSI 0.1% rise was narrowly based with increases only in pipeline and rail carloads, with trucking, water, air freight, and rail intermodal declining. The TSI increase took place against a background of strong results for several other indicators and sustained weakness in one. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production Index increased in November, reflecting increases in manufacturing and utilities and a small decrease in mining. Personal income increased by 0.5%, while housing starts increased by 3.2%. The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing index decreased 0.2 points to 48.1, indicating contraction in the manufacturing sector for the fourth consecutive month. The ISM manufacturing index is based on a survey of 800 supply chain executives, on production, orders, deliveries, and employment, while the Federal Reserve IP index is based on estimated physical output using a range of output measures that the Federal Reserve considers reliable.

 

Trend: The November index was at the same relatively high level as January 2019 despite dips during the early part of the year and a rise to a record level in August. The November index was higher than all but two months prior to 2019. It was exceeded by only October 2018 and November 2018 and five earlier months in 2019. The Freight TSI rose 16.8% from the recent low of 120.0 in March 2016 to a level of 140.2 in August 2019 but has declined by 2.0% since then. The November 2019 index was 44.9% 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 November 2019 (137.4) were 44.9% higher than the low in April 2009 during the recession (94.8). The November 2019 level was 2.0% below the historic peak reached in August 2019 (140.2) (Table 1A).

 

Year-to-date: For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were up 1.0% in November compared to the end of 2018 (Table 3).

 

Long-term trend: For-hire freight shipments are up 11.7% in the five years from November 2014 and are up 35.8% in the 10 years from November 2009 (Table 5). 

 

Same month of previous year: November 2019 for-hire freight shipments were down 0.8% from November 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 December 2019 index is scheduled for Feb. 12.

 

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.5% in November from its October level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI November 2019 level of 133.8 was 2.8% above the November 2018 level (Table 7). The index is up 12.4% in five years and up 23.3% 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 0.2% in November from its October level (Table 8). The combined TSI November 2019 level of 135.8 was 0.5% above the November 2018 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 12.0% in five years and up 31.6% 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 May 2019, November 2019

Freight Passenger Combined 1
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change 2
May 138.3 0.0 134.2 1.6 136.5 0.6 3
June 137.8 -0.4 133.4 -0.6 135.9 -0.4 4
July 138.6 0.6 133.5 0.1 136.4 0.4 5
August 140.2 1.2 133.9 0.3 137.5 0.8 6
September 136.8 -2.4 133.3 -0.4 135.2 -1.7 7
October 137.3 0.4 133.2 -0.1 135.5 0.2 8
November 137.4 0.1 133.8 0.5 135.8 0.2 9
10
Notes:

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2016-2019, November 2019

2016 2017 2018 2019 1
% Change % Change % Change % Change 2
January 1.5 -0.2 -1.4 1.0 3
February -0.5 0.6 1.9 -0.8 4
March -1.0 0.0 1.2 0.4 5
April 1.8 0.3 0.1 1.0 6
May -0.5 0.2 0.5 0.0 7
June 0.6 0.3 0.6 -0.4 8
July 2.3 1.8 -0.9 0.6 9
August -1.8 0.4 0.1 1.2 10
September -0.7 -0.2 1.4 -2.4 11
October 0.5 1.1 0.8 0.4 12
November 0.4 1.3 0.3 0.1 13
December 0.7 1.1 -1.7 14
15
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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

2016 2017 2018 2019 1
January 121.8 123.5 130.4 137.4 2
February 121.2 124.3 132.9 136.3 3
March 120.0 124.3 134.5 136.9 4
April 122.1 124.7 134.7 138.3 5
May 121.5 124.9 135.4 138.3 6
June 122.2 125.3 136.2 137.8 7
July 125.0 127.5 135.0 138.6 8
August 122.7 128.0 135.1 140.2 9
September 121.8 127.8 137.0 136.8 10
October 122.4 129.2 138.1 137.3 11
November 122.9 130.9 138.5 137.4 12
December 123.7 132.3 136.1 13
14
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 4: Freight Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year , November 2019

November Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year 1
2010 107.2 5.9 2
2011 111.8 4.3 3
2012 111.9 0.1 4
2013 118.7 6.1 5
2014 123.0 3.6 6
2015 120.7 -1.9 7
2016 122.9 1.8 8
2017 130.9 6.5 9
2018 138.5 5.8 10
2019 137.4 -0.8 11
12
Notes:

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 5: Transportation Services Indexes from Previous Years, November 2019

Since November . . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to November 2019 Passenger TSI Percent change to November 2019 Combined TSI Percent change to November 2019 1
2018 1 -0.8 2.8 0.5 2
2017 2 5.0 5.3 5.1 3
2016 3 11.8 8.2 10.6 4
2015 4 13.8 9.2 12.2 5
2014 5 11.7 12.4 12.0 6
2013 6 15.8 13.5 15.0 7
2012 7 22.8 16.3 20.6 8
2011 8 22.9 16.9 20.8 9
2010 9 28.2 18.3 24.8 10
2009 10 35.8 23.3 31.6 11
12
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2016-2019, November 2019

2016 2017 2018 2019 1
% Change % Change % Change % Change 2
January -0.4 0.8 -0.2 0.0 3
February 1.2 -1.3 0.9 -0.3 4
March -2.2 0.5 0.0 3.2 5
April 0.9 1.0 0.5 -1.1 6
May 0.3 -0.4 0.6 1.6 7
June 0.5 0.2 0.6 -0.6 8
July -0.5 0.2 0.1 0.1 9
August -1.0 -0.2 -0.2 0.3 10
September 2.3 -1.6 -1.5 -0.4 11
October -2.0 2.4 1.8 -0.1 12
November 1.0 0.5 -0.2 0.5 13
December 0.6 -0.2 -0.2 14
15
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 7: Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year, November 2019

November Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year 1
2010 113.1 4.2 2
2011 114.5 1.2 3
2012 115.0 0.4 4
2013 117.9 2.5 5
2014 119.0 0.9 6
2015 122.5 2.9 7
2016 123.7 1.0 8
2017 127.1 2.7 9
2018 130.1 2.4 10
2019 133.8 2.8 11
12
Notes:

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2016-2019, November 2019

2016 2017 2018 2019 1
% Change % Change % Change % Change 2
January 0.7 0.2 -0.9 0.7 3
February 0.2 0.0 1.6 -0.7 4
March -1.5 0.2 0.8 1.5 5
April 1.5 0.6 0.3 0.2 6
May -0.2 -0.1 0.5 0.6 7
June 0.5 0.2 0.6 -0.4 8
July 1.4 1.3 -0.5 0.4 9
August -1.5 0.1 0.0 0.8 10
September 0.2 -0.6 0.4 -1.7 11
October -0.3 1.6 1.1 0.2 12
November 0.6 1.0 0.1 0.2 13
December 0.7 0.5 -1.3 14
15
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 9: Combined Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year, November 2019

November Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year 1
2010 108.8 5.4 2
2011 112.4 3.3 3
2012 112.6 0.2 4
2013 118.1 4.9 5
2014 121.3 2.7 6
2015 121.0 -0.2 7
2016 122.8 1.5 8
2017 129.2 5.2 9
2018 135.1 4.6 10
2019 135.8 0.5 11
12
Notes:

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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).