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Figure 4-2: Productivity in Selected Transportation Industries: 1987-2002 (Output per Employee,1 Index, 1987 = 100)

In general, moving goods is cheaper now than in the past. Productivity has improved in both long distance railroading and long distance trucking over the past decade, but much more quickly in rail than road transportation. Between 1987 and 2002, output per hour worked more than doubled in line-haul railroading but grew only 40 percent in long distance, general freight trucking. Line-haul railroads primarily engage in operating railroads for the transport of passengers and/or cargo over a long distance within a rail network. These establishments do not include switching and terminal operations nor short distance (or local) railroads. Long distance, general freight trucking establishments are operations other than those primarily engaged in local trucking and specialized trucking. Specialized trucking establishments are primarily engaged in the transportation of freight which, because of size, weight, shape, or other inherent characteristics, requires specialized equipment, such as flatbeds, tankers, or refrigerated trailers.

See paragraph above and table below for explanation of Figure 4-2

Data represented in the figure
Table in Excel format

Output per hour worked 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Air transportation100101989696100104112118122123120121121113127
Line-haul railroads100108115119128140146150156167170173179194207224
General freight trucking, long-distance100106106111116123120124120121126125128133131138
Postal Service100100100104104104107107106105108110111114115116

1Based on the number of paid hours. Real gross domestic product in the business and nonfarm business sectors is the basis of the output components of the productivity measures. These output components are based on and are consistent with the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA), including the gross domestic product (GDP) measure, prepared by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Industry Productivity, available at as of March 2004.

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