October Freight Services Index mixed, BTS reports

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The United States Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) recently reported that his Freight Transportation Services Index (IST) experienced a sequential gain and an annual decrease for October, the most recent month for which data are available.

According to BTS officials, the Freight STI measures monthly changes in freight shipments in tonne-miles, which are then combined into a single 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 air freight.

The October reading, at 131.7, was up 0.1% from September, up sequentially for the second consecutive month, and down 4.5% from October 2019. The October reading October is 6.9% below the all-time high of 141.5 recorded in August. 2019.

BTS officials said the October freight STI was almost unchanged in October, due to growth in shipping, rail, intermodal, full rail, pipeline and air, even though trucking saw a decline.

And BTS also observed the following data points related to the most recent Freight STI reading, including:

  • TSI Freight has increased sequentially in five of the last six months through October, after three months of declines;
  • During the pandemic, the Freight STI fell 8.1% from January to April, up 5.7% from April to July, a drop of 1.1% from July to August, followed by small increases in September and October;
  • For-hire freight shipments in October rose 38.8% from their April 2009 low – at 94.9 – during the recession; and
  • Cargo shipments for October rental on a cumulative basis through October are down 3.6% per year

December 15, 2020

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