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Freight index falls 2.3 percent in December

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) fell 2.3 percent in December from its November level, falling for the second consecutive month.

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported that the December decline, the fourth monthly decrease in five months, dropped the freight index to a loss of 3.0 percent for 2008.

The index was up 2.7 percent for the first seven months of the year but declined 5.5 percent in the final five months, the largest five-month decline since the period ending April 2000.

The 2008 decline of 3.0 percent was the third consecutive annual decline and the largest since 2000. At 105.1 in December, the freight TSI is at its lowest level since September 2003 when it was 104.4 and is down 7.1 percent from its historic peak of 113.1 reached in November 2005.

The freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire freight transportation industries. The index consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines, and air freight.

The 2.3 percent decline from November to December dropped the freight index to its lowest year-end level since 2002. As a result of the 2.3 percent decline in December, the freight index dropped 2.7 percent in the five years from December 2003, the first such five-year decrease since January 1990, the starting date of the index. The index is still up 5.3 percent in 10 years.

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