Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

Freight Facts and Figures 2011

Table 4-4. Employment in For-Hire Transportation Establishments Primarily Serving Freight: 1980-20101

Employment in many transportation industries has remained steady or has grown over the past two decades with the notable exception of railroads and pipelines, which have declined by 21 percent and 30 percent, respectively, between 1990 and 2010. Consequently, in 2010 rail transportation employed only 5 percent of those working in the transportation and warehousing industry compared with about 18 percent in 1980. By comparison, trucking in 2010 accounted for 30 percent of total transportation and warehousing sector employment.

Table in Excel format | Historical data

Thousands of employees

Blank cell. 1980 1990 2000 2009 2010
Total U.S. labor force2 90,528 109,487 131,785 (R) 130,807 129,818
Transportation and warehousing 2,961 3,476 4,410 (R) 4,236 4,184
Rail transportation 518 272 232 (R) 218 215
Water transportation NA 57 56 (R) 63 63
Truck transportation NA 1,122 1,406 (R) 1,268 1,244
Pipeline transportation NA 60 46 (R) 43 42
Support activities for transportation3 NA 364 537 549 540
Couriers and messengers NA 375 605 (R) 546 527
Warehousing and storage NA 407 514 (R) 637 628

Key: NA = not available; R = revised.

1Annual averages.

2Excludes farm employment.

3Industries in the support activities for transportation subsector provide services that 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.


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.


U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics survey, available at as of August 19, 2011.


To view Excel files, you can use the Microsoft Excel Viewer.

Office of Operations