Freight tonnage numbers for March reveal another slow month

| Friday, May 13, 2016

Official freight numbers for March are in. The index that measures freight movement in tons and ton-miles reveals freight was down for all freight modes except air.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Freight Transportation Services Index for March decreased by 0.9 percent to 120. March’s TSI is a 2.8 percent decrease of the all-time high of 123.5 set in November 2014.

The February index is 26.7 percent above the low during the recession in April 2009. TSI records began in 2000.

Trucking freight decreased by 0.6 points to 134.7 from 135.3, a drop of less than 1 percent. However, American Trucking Associations’ numbers reveal a tonnage decrease of 4.5 percent in March to 137.6 from 144 in February. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership.

According to the DOT, TSI’s drop lines up with monthly decreases in the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index. Manufacturing activity and high inventories showed signs of decline.

The decrease was driven by continued weakness in the mining (including oil and gas well drilling and servicing), utility and manufacturing sectors of the economy. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index declined 0.6 percent in March, its second consecutive monthly decline.

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