U.S. For-Hire Freight Shipments Stage Comeback

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A measure of for-hire freight movements south of the border increased in May following an April decline, according to the U.S. Transportation Department.

Its Freight Transportation Services Index rose 0.8% to 122.7 on seasonally-adjusted basis, just 0.5% below the all-time high level of 123.3 in November 2014.

The April index was revised upward to 121.7 from 120.4 in last month’s release but remains below the March index, while measures for December through March were also revised up slightly.

Compared to May 2014 freight shipments are up 1.7% in May of this year.

According to the report, there was a large increase in trucking during May, partially reversing an overall April drop of 1.8%, the biggest decline since January 2014, putting the index at its lowest level since June 2014. Waterborne freight also rose along with a smaller increase in pipeline. These increases outweighed declines in air freight, rail carloads, and rail intermodal to produce the rise in the overall freight index in May.

This happened as personal income and employment increased in the U.S. during May while the U.S. Federal Reserve’s industrial production index and manufacturers’ shipments declined. Also, revised data indicates that the U.S. gross domestic product, a measure of the total output of goods and services, declined in the first quarter of 2015, when the growth of the freight TSI slowed. 

The index measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index and includes the output of the for-hire freight from trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.


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