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Table 4-3: Employment in For-Hire Transportation Primarily Serving Freight1 (Thousands)

Employment in many transportation industries has remained steady or has grown over the past two decades, but it has plummeted in rail transportation as productivity has soared. Between 1980 and 2003, rail employment declined nearly 60 percent. Consequently, in 2003 rail transportation employed only 5 percent of those working in the transportation and warehousing industry compared with 18 percent in 1980. By comparison, employment in trucking, in 2003, accounted for about one-third of employment in transportation and warehousing.

Table in Excel format

empty Cell 1980 1990 2000 2003
Total U.S. labor force290,528109,487131,785129,931
Transportation and warehousing2,9613,4764,4104,177
Rail transportation518272232215
Water transportationNA575653
Truck transportationNA1,1221,4061,328
Pipeline transportationNA604640
Support activities for transportationNA364537516
Postal service673825880809
Couriers and messengersNA375605567
Warehousing and storageNA407514522

Key: NA = not available.

1Annual averages.
2Excludes farm employment.

Note: These data include workers employed in transportation industries but not necessarily in a transportation occupation, such as a lawyer working for a trucking company. Moreover, these data exclude workers in transportation occupations employed by non-transportation industries, such as a truck driver employed by a retail company.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics survey, available at as of July 15, 2004.

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