Overview of the Transportation Services Index [HD .MP4 (848x480/29.96fps/27.5 MB)]
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Overview of the Transportation Services Index [HD .MP4 (848x480/29.96fps/27.5 MB)]

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    I'm going to talk about a way of measuring changes in the transportation sector and why that's an important thing to do. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics has issued this measurement every month since 2004. It's called the Transportation Services Index and it's a measure of the monthly output of the transportation sector of the US economy. What do we mean by output? For the freight sector, we use ton-miles of freight, or we use tons when we can't get ton-miles. For passenger modes, we use passenger-miles or passengers, depending on what we can get. We collect the data and then we seasonally-adjust it. By analyzing seasonal trends from earlier months, we can find patterns and adjust the data to remove them. That way, we'll know that changes are not just because of normal seasonal patterns. Then we combine the numbers from the different modes into three indexes - freight, passenger, and combined - based on the economic size of each mode. Why is all this important? Economists always look for more data to look at the present condition of the economy and to try to determine its direction. Trends in freight shipments are especially useful. Shipment volumes often change before changes in sales and production. That means the freight index tends to change direction before the economy does. In the past 30 years, whenever freight TSI has hit a peak and turned downward, a recession or growth slowdown has followed. If you want to keep up with the latest numbers, you'll find the updated index on the BTS website at 11:30 a.m. on the second Wednesday of every month - 6 weeks after the end of the month that they refer to. For example, the TSI for September is released on the second Wednesday of November. On the Website you will find a lot more information about TSI.
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