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Transportation indexes

FRED recently added a set of transportation services indexes from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The freight index covers all domestic transport of commercial freight, including pipeline movements for oil and gas. It does not cover in-house trucking, courier, or postal services. The passenger index covers local public transportation (except taxi) and intercity rail and air transportation. (The FRED Blog previously discussed miles traveled, which covered personal transportation by automobile.) The graph shows freight transportation declining more than passenger transportation during the past recession; in the previous recession, passenger transportation suffered more.

How this graph was created: Look up the Transportation Services Index (TSI) and select the three indexes.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann

View on FRED, series used in this post: TSIFRGHT, TSIPSNGR, TSITTL

Renting and owning homes

It should not surprise anyone that the homeownership rate has declined nationwide in the most recent years after a large number of foreclosures. Many former homeowners must have moved into rental units, pushing down the rental vacancy rate, as seen in the graph. What is surprising is that the homeowner vacancy rate is actually declining as well. How could this happen? Was the housing stock significantly reduced? Did homeowners become renters of the same home? Has there been significantly more household creation? Anything else?

How this graph was created: Search for one of these series, then add the other. For the homeownership rate, check “right” for the Y-axis position.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann

View on FRED, series used in this post: RHVRUSQ156N, RRVRUSQ156N, USHOWN

The importance of migrant remittances

Many migrant workers systematically send some money back to their home countries to family members who could not follow them or others they know. How important is this source of income for these home countries? Hard to say. But the graph offers three examples, which offer three quick takeaways: 1) remittances can make up a significant share of local GDP, 2) they appear to be growing, and 3) they can be quite variable. We can speculate that this last point may involve adverse consequences, but also that Moldova (for one) is better off with remittances than without.

How this graph was created: Search for “remittances,” pick your countries, and add them to a graph.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann

View on FRED, series used in this post: DDOI11MDA156NWDB, DDOI11NIA156NWDB, DDOI11PHA156NWDB

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