Freight TSI declines for the first time in four months, reports BTS

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The United States Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) recently reported that its Freight Transportation Services Index (Freight TSI) saw a slight decline in December, 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 December reading—at 136.4—marked a decline on the heels of three straight month of gains, following fourth months of declines, said BTS, with the Freight TSI up 1.0% annually compared to a 1.3% annual decline from December 2019 to December 2020.

BTS said the December’s reading is 4.0% below the all-time Freight TSI high—at 142.1—set in August 2019. And it attributed the November to December decline to seasonally adjusted decreases in air freight, rail carloads, and rail intermodal while water, pipeline, and trucking grew.

The Freight TSI saw gains in six months throughout 2021, with six months of declines, for a cumulative 1.0% gain for the year. The December reading is 9.0% above the April 2020 pandemic low.

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