Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

Table 4-3. Employment in For-Hire Transportation Establishments Primarily Serving Freight: 1980-20061 (Thousands)

Employment in many transportation industries has remained steady or has grown over the past two decades with the notable exception of railroads. While the long-term trend may have reversed in recent months, rail employment declined nearly 60 percent between 1980 and 2006. Consequently, in 2006 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 2006 accounted for about one-third of employment in transportation and warehousing.

Table in Excel format | Historical data

empty Cell 1980 1990 2005 2006
Total U.S. labor force290,528109,487(R) 133,703136,174
Transportation and warehousing2,9613,476(R) 4,3614,466
Rail transportation518272228225
Water transportationNA576164
Truck transportationNA1,122(R) 1,3981,437
Pipeline transportationNA603839
Support activities for transportation3NA364(R) 552571
Couriers and messengersNA375572585
Warehousing and storageNA407(R) 595636

Key: NA = not available; R = revised.

1Annual averages.
2Excludes farm employment.
3Industries in the Support Activities for Transportation subsector provide services which support transportation. These services may be provided to transportation carrier establishments or to the general public. This subsector includes a wide array of establishments, including air traffic control services, marine cargo handling, and motor vehicle towing.

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 June 3, 2007.

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