The United States Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) recently reported that its Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) saw sequential and annual declines in August, the most recent month for which data is available.
According to BTS officials, the Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments 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 airfreight.
The August reading—at 131.1—was off 1.3% compared to July and was down 7.4% compared to August 2020. This decline followed three months of increases and is 7.4% below the all-time high of 141.6 recorded in August 2019.
BTS officials pointed to declines in water, pipeline, and trucking as the drivers for the August decline, even though there was growth in rail intermodal, rail carload, and air freight, “against the background of mixed results in other indicators.”
And BTS also observed the following data points related to the most recent Freight TSI reading, including:
- the index has now declined in four of the eight months of 2020, for a total decrease of 4% in 2020.
- the index remained 3.7% below its pre-pandemic level in February, and 4.2% below its recent peak in January;
- it is 4.4% above its pandemic low point in April and is now 7.4% below its all-time high in August 2019;
- the index was below the levels of every month from November 2017 to March 2020 for the fifth