U.S. for-hire freight demand softens for first time in months

Demand in the for-hire freight sector softened somewhat in June, marking one of the first declines in months, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The bureau’s Freight Transportation Services Index, based on the amount of freight carried, dropped 0.4% from May to June. The index rose 5.9% from June 2020 to June 2021, compared to a decline of 7% from June 2019 to June 2020, and a 1.4% decline from June 2018 to June 2019.

(Source: U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

The latest decline reflects drops in rail carloads, rail intermodal, and trucking activity, despite growth involving water, air freight and pipelines, the bureau says.

The index is above any level seen during the Covid-19 pandemic prior to April 2021, but still sits below levels seen in November 2019.

The index measures data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines, and air freight. It doesn’t include international or coastal water movements, private trucking, courier services, or the U.S. Postal Service.

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