Freight tonnage in May decreases slightly for trucking

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 7/13/2016

Official freight numbers for May are in. The index, which measures freight movement in tons and ton-miles, reveals freight was up for all freight modes except trucking and air freight.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Freight Transportation Services Index for May increased by 0.2 percent to 121.8. May’s TSI is a 1.5 percent decrease of the all-time high of 123.7 set in December 2014.

The May index is 28.6 percent above the low set during the recession in May 2009. TSI records began in 2000.

Trucking freight went down to 136.1 from 137.2, a decrease of less than 1 percent. However, numbers from the American Trucking Associations reveal a tonnage increase of 2.7 percent in May to 139 from 135.3 in April. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys of its membership.

According to the DOT, TSI’s growth lines up with monthly increases in personal income, personal consumption and imports of goods. In addition to higher employment, May also experienced a slight increase in the Institute for Supply Management's Manufacturing index, suggesting accelerating manufacturing growth, according to BTS.

May’s freight TSI increase is the third month-to-month increase for the year. Although edging higher, the TSI index for May is below January’s level of 122.6. February and March’s decreases were only the third back-to-back monthly decreases since December 2013. In all three cases, the next month represented an increase of 1.2 percent or more, including three of the four largest increases in that period.

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