Transportation Services Index

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June 2019 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

Release Number: 
BTS 33-19
Date: Wednesday, August 14, 2019

 

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, fell 0.1% in June from revised May, falling for the second consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). From June 2018 to June 2019, the index rose 1.3% compared to a rise of 8.9% for the previous year (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

The May index was revised to 138.1 from 135.4 in last month’s release.

The level of for-hire freight shipments in June measured by the Freight TSI (138.0) was 0.5% below the all-time high level of 138.7 in November 2018 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)
MonthFreight TSI
Jun-14119.8
Jul-14120.4
Aug-14120.9
Sep-14121.8
Oct-14122.6
Nov-14123.2
Dec-14123.1
Jan-15122.9
Feb-15121.6
Mar-15122.5
Apr-15121.5
May-15121.8
Jun-15121.3
Jul-15122.4
Aug-15123.0
Sep-15122.9
Oct-15122.5
Nov-15120.8
Dec-15120.3
Jan-16122.0
Feb-16121.4
Mar-16120.2
Apr-16122.4
May-16121.6
Jun-16122.2
Jul-16125.2
Aug-16122.9
Sep-16121.6
Oct-16122.6
Nov-16123.2
Dec-16123.9
Jan-17123.7
Feb-17124.5
Mar-17124.4
Apr-17124.8
May-17124.8
Jun-17125.1
Jul-17127.7
Aug-17128.3
Sep-17127.6
Oct-17129.2
Nov-17131.2
Dec-17132.3
Jan-18130.2
Feb-18132.9
Mar-18134.7
Apr-18134.6
May-18135.5
Jun-18136.2
Jul-18135.3
Aug-18135.3
Sep-18136.4
Oct-18137.9
Nov-18138.7
Dec-18136.2
Jan-19137.4
Feb-19135.7
Mar-19136.6
Apr-19138.2
May-19138.1
Jun-19138.0
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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 Freight TSI March decrease of 0.1% was driven by declines in water, rail carloads, rail intermodal and air freight, while pipeline, and trucking grew. The TSI decline took place against a background of mixed results for other indicators. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production Index  was unchanged in June, reflecting increases in mining and manufacturing and a decrease in utilities. Personal income increased by 0.4%, while housing starts declined by 0.9%. The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing index decreased 0.4 points to 51.7, indicating continued but slowing growth.

Trend: The June index was the fourth highest all-time level despite small decreases in both May (-0.1%) and June (-0.1%). Following an increase of 1.2% from March to April, the last three months from April through June were the highest levels TSI has reached except for the all-time high of 138.7 in November 2018. The index moved between 137.9 and 138.7 in five of the nine months from October 2018 to June 2019.

The 1.0% increase in the second quarter of 2019 was the largest increase since the second quarter of 2018, after three quarters when TSI was close to unchanged, which were preceded by four quarters of significant growth. The index has increased in 10 of 11 quarters since the fourth quarter of 2016. The June index was 45.6% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

New from BTS: A new report: What the Transportation Services Index, Dow Transportation Index, and Cass Freight Index Tell Us, is now available. Because the three indexes are commonly cited together, the BTS presents this Technical Brief to describe each in detail, highlight similarities and differences among the indexes, and describe what each index tells us about transportation and the economy.

Index highs and lows: For-hire freight shipments in June 2019 (138.0) were 45.6% higher than the low in April 2009 during the recession (94.8). The June 2019 level was 0.5% below the historic peak reached in November 2018 (138.7).

Year-to-date: For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were up 1.3% in June compared to the end of 2018 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: For-hire freight shipments are up 15.2% in the five years from June 2014 and are up 43.6% in the 10 years from June 2009 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: June 2019 for-hire freight shipments were up 1.3% from June 2018 (Tables 4, 5).

2nd quarter changes: The freight TSI rose 1.0% in the second quarter, the second consecutive quarterly increase (Table 10).  

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 July 2019 index is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers fell 0.1% in June from its May level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI June 2019 level of 134.8 was 2.7% above the June 2018 level (Table 7). The index is up 13.1% in five years and up 24.2% 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 fell 0.1% in June from its May level (Table 8). The combined TSI June 2019 level of 137.0 was 1.8% above the June 2018 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 14.5% in five years and up 37.3% 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.

Percent Change from Previous Month, (Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)
FreightPassengerCombined
IndexPct. Change IndexPct. Change IndexPct. Change
December136.2-1.8130.5-0.5134.4-1.4
January137.40.9130.60.1135.20.6
February135.7-1.2130.5-0.1134.0-0.9
March136.60.7134.53.1136.01.5
April138.21.2133.1-1.0136.60.4
May138.1-0.1135.01.4137.10.4
June138.0-0.1134.8-0.1137.0-0.1
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

YearMonthPeakMonthBottom
2009December101.6April94.8
2015August123.0December120.3
2016July125.2March120.2
2017December132.3January123.7
2018November138.7January130.2
2019(thru June)April138.2February135.7
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from previous month
2016201720182019
% Change% Change% Change% Change
January1.4-0.2-1.60.9
February-0.50.62.1-1.2
March-1.0-0.11.40.7
April1.80.3-0.11.2
May-0.70.00.7-0.1
June0.50.20.5-0.1
July2.52.1-0.7
August-1.80.50.0
September-1.1-0.50.8
October0.81.31.1
November0.51.50.6
December0.60.8-1.8
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

2016201720182019
January122.0123.7130.2137.4
February121.4124.5132.9135.7
March120.2124.4134.7136.6
April122.4124.8134.6138.2
May121.6124.8135.5138.1
June122.2125.1136.2138.0
July125.2127.7135.3
August122.9128.3135.3
September121.6127.6136.4
October122.6129.2137.9
November123.2131.2138.7
December123.9132.3136.2
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change to June from December of the previous year
YearFreightPassengerCombined
20104.81.33.8
20111.51.01.3
2012-1.2-0.4-1.0
20133.81.53.1
20141.81.31.6
2015-1.50.8-0.7
20161.60.31.1
20171.00.91.0
20182.92.72.8
20191.33.31.9
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change in the June Freight TSI, (Monthly average of 2000 = 100)
June Freight TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2010106.510.8
2011110.33.6
2012113.63.0
2013116.52.6
2014119.82.8
2015121.31.3
2016122.20.7
2017125.12.4
2018136.28.9
2019138.01.3
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent Change to 2019 (June to June)
Since June . . .Duration in yearsFreight TSI Percent change to June 2019Passenger TSI Percent change to June 2019Combined TSI Percent change to June 2019
201811.32.71.8
2017210.36.49.0
2016312.97.811.2
2015413.810.812.8
2014515.213.114.5
2013618.514.617.2
2012721.517.020.1
2011825.118.022.9
2010929.620.626.6
20091043.624.237.3
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from previous month
2016201720182019
% Change% Change% Change% Change
January-0.40.8-0.20.1
February1.4-1.21.2-0.1
March-2.40.4-0.23.1
April1.01.10.6-1.0
May0.2-0.60.31.4
June0.60.30.9-0.1
July-0.40.30.1
August-1.0-0.3-0.3
September1.9-2.3-2.4
October-1.53.02.6
November1.00.50.0
December0.6-0.3-0.5
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change in the June Passenger TSI, (Monthly average of 2000 = 100)
June Passenger TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2010111.83.0
2011114.22.1
2012115.20.9
2013117.62.1
2014119.21.4
2015121.72.1
2016125.02.7
2017126.71.4
2018131.33.6
2019134.82.7
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from previous month
2016201720182019
% Change% Change% Change% Change
January0.80.2-1.10.6
February0.10.11.8-0.9
March-1.50.10.81.5
April1.60.60.20.4
May-0.3-0.20.50.4
June0.50.30.6-0.1
July1.51.4-0.4
August-1.70.2-0.1
September0.0-1.1-0.2
October0.01.81.6
November0.71.20.4
December0.60.5-1.4
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change in the June Combined TSI, (Monthly average of 2000 = 100)
June Combined TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2010108.28.4
2011111.53.0
2012114.12.3
2013116.92.5
2014119.72.4
2015121.51.5
2016123.21.4
2017125.72.0
2018134.67.1
2019137.01.8
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter
Year1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
20103.80.90.61.5
20112.0-0.51.03.2
2012-2.91.7-1.50.3
20133.20.60.01.0
20141.9-0.11.71.1
2015-0.5-1.01.3-2.1
2016-0.11.7-0.51.9
20170.40.62.03.7
20181.81.10.1-0.1
20190.31.0
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter
Year1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
20100.21.11.3-0.1
20110.30.70.80.5
20120.2-0.60.40.2
20130.31.2-0.30.4
20141.8-0.50.60.7
20150.50.31.11.3
2016-1.41.80.40.1
20170.00.9-2.33.2
20180.91.9-2.62.0
20193.10.2
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter
Year1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
20102.81.00.71.0
20111.5-0.20.92.5
2012-2.01.0-0.90.3
20132.30.8-0.10.9
20141.8-0.21.30.9
2015-0.2-0.61.2-1.0
2016-0.61.7-0.21.2
20170.30.60.63.6
20181.51.4-0.70.6
20191.20.7
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Updated: Wednesday, August 14, 2019