U.S. Department of Transportation Adopts New UAlbany
Current figures suggests continuing economic
recovery in U.S.
Contact: Michael Parker (518) 437-4980
ALBANY, N.Y. (March 10, 2004) -- Today the U.S.
Department of Transportation (DOT) released its
first Transportation Services Index (TSI), a new
output index developed by University at Albany
Economics Professor Kajal Lahiri with assistance
from researcher Wenxiong Yao that the government
will use to gauge the industry in relation to
the economy ("BTS
Releases First Monthly Transportation Services
index will be produced monthly by DOT's Bureau
of Transportation Statistics (BTS). This number,
like industrial production (IP) index, gauges
the latest pulse in the transportation sector.
The TSI is based on eight constituent series covering
air, rail, water, truck, transit and pipeline
activities. January's figure shows continuing
economy-wide recovery, dating back to the end
of the most recent U.S. recession in November,
As in previous recessions, TSI and its freight
component, which is based on trucking tonnage,
air freight, rail traffic, waterway tonnage, and
movements of petroleum products by pipelines,
declined precipitously much ahead of the latest
recession that began in March 2001, as determined
by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).
After the end of the recession, TSI (freight)
has steadily increased by over 12 percent by December,
2003. Lahiri's data provides information for each
month dating back to 1979.
Currently, the NBER uses IP, Sales, employment
(EMP) and Personal Income (INC) as coincident
indicators to define business cycles. Since the
service providing sectors such as transportation
have become increasingly more important in the
economy than the manufacturing sectors, and none
of the current coincident indicators represent
services, the TSI fills in the enormous service-industry
gap in monitoring where the bulk of the economy
is headed. TSI tends to be more sensitive to economic
shocks, and hence is more suitable in detecting
cyclical turning points than the current indicators
used by NBER.
The transportation industry accounts for 11 percent
of the Gross Domestic Product and 11.6 million
U.S. jobs. Data suggests the Index will be a leading
indicator of trends in the U.S. economy. Lahiri's
research has shown that movements in the series
foreshadow peaks and troughs of the economy remarkably
well. The index will provide insightful information
on a critical U.S. industry to market analysts
and financial planners, where no comprehensive
gauge currently exists.
"Up until now, there has been no easy way
to capture countless sources of transportation
data into a single, useful number," said
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta,
in remarks following the opening of the New York
Stock Exchange on Jan. 29. "…The index fills
that huge void and gives us a solid reading on
where the economy is headed."
The U.S. Department of Transportation has hopes
that the Index will grow to be as valuable an
economic tool as the Gross Domestic Product or
the Producer Price Index in helping gauge the
U.S. Economy, according to Mr. Mineta.
Kajal Lahiri can be reached for radio, television
and print interviews, guest commentary and expert
analysis. For more information or queries, please
contact the University at Albany Office
of Media Relations, (518) 437-4980.
Kajal Lahiri's reports are available
in PDF form at: