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North American Freight Numbers Reach Record-High Levels

North American Freight Numbers Reach Record-High Levels

Transportation plays a vital role in the American economy. It makes economic activity possible, and serves as a major economic activity itself.  Beginning in May 2017, freight shipments reached record-high levels that exceeded the level of shipments in any month prior to 2017.  A strong indicator of a growing economy.

Measured by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Freight  Transportation Services Index (TSI), freight shipments rose 6.1 percent from November 2016 through the early months of 2018. The total value of U.S.-international merchandise trade rose 37.6 percent from 2000 to 2016 when adjusted for inflation.  In 2016, the value was approximately $3.3 Trillion. U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico accounted for 29.3 percent (nearly $1.07 trillion) of the value of U.S.-international merchandise trade in 2016.

The BTS’ Transportation Services Index  measures monthly changes in freight shipments by the for-hire sector to measure the volume of freight and passenger transportation services provided monthly by the for-hire transportation sector in the United States. For-hire transportation consists of the services provided by transportation firms to industries and the public on a fee basis. Airlines, railroads, transit agencies, common carrier trucking companies, and pipelines are examples of for-hire transportation.

For nationwide freight numbers, see BTS’ Freight Analysis Framework

North American Freight shipping numbers from 2015 to 2018 graphic

(Data based on the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) 2015 report and Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) February 2018 report) 

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