Freight movements across the US have increased for the first time in five months according to official statistics, signalling the sector could be starting to recover from the downturn.
The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), published by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, showed that the ton-miles of freight shipments rose by 1.6 percent between the months of June and July.
This jump in freight usage not only represents the first monthly increase since February, when the TSI increased by 1 percent, but is also significantly the largest rise since January 2008. Last month the TSI remained static with no movement in freight usage. It had previously dropped during all but two of the previous twelve months.
The index measures freight movements across road, rail and inland waterways, in addition to pipelines and air freight.
In his official blog US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood welcomed the rise as a positive sign.
“Doesn't seem like much?” asked LaHood of the 1.6 percent increase. “Keep in mind that this is the first monthly rise since February and the largest increase since January 2008. And because the Freight TSI was level from May to June, this means two months in a row without a decline.”
LaHood added: “Freight shipping is increasing, and someone is buying that freight… we're talking about economic activity. The rise in the freight index for the first time since February is a sign that the economic recovery is beginning. I hope we can all greet this news as grounds for cautious optimism.”
The index of passenger usage also increased, by 1.2 percent, between June and July. The previous month it had fallen by 0.3 percent.