Freight Transportation Index January Report

Posted On 16th March 2015
There has been a decline in the Freight Transportation Index from December to January. The decline has actually been observed in two months consecutively, the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics recently reported. The Index decline has been attributed to several factors including the downward trend in air freight, trucking, and waterborne shipping. The other reason that could explain the declining Index is the slow growth in the production of orders and inventory in the transportation sector.

If you take a look at January’s report, you’ll notice a significantly low level of freight shipments beginning in late September. There has also been a drop month after month but in January, the percentage was similar to what was observed in 2014 the same month.

It is also observed that the freight shipments have increased compared to January 2010 where the economy was struggling after the effects of the recession. Freight shipments were observed to have increased by 19 percent in the 5 years from January 2010. An increase of 7.6 percent in freight shipment was also noted in a period of 10 years from January 2005.

The Transportation Services Index utilizes 3 seasonally adjusted Indexes that help us to measure the state of the economy and how this is affected by the transportation sector. These three Indexes are freight shipments, passenger travel, and a combined measure of both. It includes data that was obtained from 2000 to present. The decline in the overall freight Index has partly been attributed to the decreased volumes in air freight, trucking, and waterborne services even though there was an increase in the rail carloads, intermodal, and pipeline.
The Index for passenger travel fell by 0.1 percent in January. This Index is what measures the monthly changes in travel that involve passengers in the for-hire transportation sector. It incorporates data that is obtained from air, local transit, and intercity rail. There was a decline observed in January but if you compare the Index to 5 years back, there is an increase of 9.4 percent to what was observed in 2010.

The combined Index includes data obtained from the freight and passenger Indexes. In January, there was also an observed decline of 0.1 percent in the combined Index. But the combined Index is also up 16 percent in the five years if you compare it to what was observed in 2010. If you look at the long-term trend, freight shipments have increased by 19 percent from the post-recession period in January 2010.

Over the past several years there has been increasing demand for freight services from businesses of all sizes and despite the most recent report we do expect the trend to continue.  We are able to track demand for LTL shipping, for example, based on the number of customers using our Web site to obtain freight quotes and request other freight services online.