Travel is a big deal. Some of the busiest, densest places you’ll ever see are all about travel. If you take a vacation this summer, you’ll doubtless be reminded of this as you spend lots of time in America’s vast transportation network — places like airports, interstate highways, and port cities.
And whenever we travel it is hard to miss the impressive amount of material, people, and commerce that is out there moving around with you. In fact, all the people and infrastructure required to sort out, support, and keep all of the other people and stuff moving is such a big deal that it requires its own industry classification, transportation and warehousing (NAICS 48-49).
According to the Census Bureau:
The Transportation and Warehousing sector includes industries providing transportation of passengers and cargo, warehousing and storage for goods, scenic and sightseeing transportation, and support activities related to modes of transportation. Establishments in these industries use transportation equipment or transportation related facilities as a productive asset. The type of equipment depends on the mode of transportation. The modes of transportation are air, rail, water, road, and pipeline.
In this post we’ll take a look at some of the key data specific to air, rail, water, and road transportation in the US. We will first provide a quick transportation sector overview (excluding pipeline transportation) and then in a followup post dive into some specific industry clusters to look at in the top performing MSAs in the US. We also have a separate post on a trends in the warehousing sector, which has seen major growth.
Please note that preliminary data for 2012 and the latter portion of 2011 are based on projections due to lags in government data releases.
There are currently an estimated 4.13 million jobs in this customized sector. From 2001 to the present, employment in transportation has grown 3.4% (roughly 135,000 jobs). From 2003-2007, the sector grew by 12.3% before losing 7.4% from 2007-2010. More recently, 2010-2012, the sector is projected to grow 3.3%.
The average industry earnings for these transportation industries is about $51,300 per year, which is slightly above the average industry earnings for the nation.
Here is a breakdown of the sub-sectors. There are seven three-digit industries that make up transportation. Again, we’re not including pipeline transportation (NAICS 486).
|NAICS Code||Description||2001 Jobs||2012 Jobs||Change||% Change||2011 Avg. Annual Wage|
|Source: EMSI Complete Employment - 2012.1|
|485||Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation||542,712||658,386||115,674||21%||$27,628|
|487||Scenic and Sightseeing Transportation||36,042||45,723||9,681||27%||$28,831|
|488||Support Activities for Transportation||580,219||687,994||107,775||19%||$54,412|
Truck transportation (NAICS 484) – This is the largest industry, making up 48% of the sector’s total employment. It is currently composed of an estimated 1.97 million domestic jobs. Over the past 11 years it has grown 3% (60,000 jobs).
After truck transportation, the next three largest sectors are support activities for transportation (687,994 jobs), transit and ground passenger transportation (658,386), and air transportation (474,524 jobs).
Support activities for transportation (NAICS 488) – According to the Census Bureau, support activities for transportation “includes a wide array of establishments, including air traffic control services, marine cargo handling, and motor vehicle towing.” The sector grew 19% and added nearly 108,000 jobs since 2001.
Transit and ground passenger transportation (NAICS 485) – This is the third-largest employment sector on our list. It has grown 21% (or 115,674 jobs) since 2001.
Air transportation (NAICS 481) – One of the most interesting industries from our list is air transportation. In 2001, it was second only to truck transportation in terms of employment (634,305 jobs). But it has plummeted 25%. That’s nearly 160,000 jobs lost in 11 years.
Here is a quick look at the 15 most common occupations that work in our customized transportation sector.
|SOC Code||Occupation||Employed in Industry Group (2001)||Employed in Industry Group (2011)||Employed in Industry Group (2012)||Change||% Change||% of the Total Jobs in Industry Group (2011)||2011 Median Hourly Wage||Education Level|
|Source: EMSI Complete Employment - 2012.1|
|53-3032||Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer||1,204,590||1,360,468||1,379,196||174,606||14%||33.20%||$17.85||Short-term on-the-job training|
|53-3041||Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs||200,981||239,345||244,653||43,672||22%||5.80%||$9.77||Short-term on-the-job training|
|53-7062||Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand||214,179||186,839||185,901||-28,278||-13%||4.60%||$11.32||Short-term on-the-job training|
|53-3033||Truck Drivers, Light or Delivery Services||127,917||136,318||137,675||9,758||8%||3.30%||$13.66||Short-term on-the-job training|
|53-3022||Bus Drivers, School||103,202||124,709||127,644||24,442||24%||3.00%||$13.18||Moderate-term on-the-job training|
|43-4181||Reservation and Transportation Ticket Agents and Travel Clerks||117,845||90,880||89,934||-27,911||-24%||2.20%||$15.29||Short-term on-the-job training|
|39-6031||Flight Attendants||110,254||82,534||81,563||-28,691||-26%||2.00%||$18.94||Long-term on-the-job training|
|43-5032||Dispatchers, Except Police, Fire, and Ambulance||79,558||74,540||74,187||-5,371||-7%||1.80%||$16.59||Moderate-term on-the-job training|
|53-3021||Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity||58,757||73,634||75,050||16,293||28%||1.80%||$18.31||Moderate-term on-the-job training|
|43-9061||Office Clerks, General||62,614||60,276||60,696||-1,918||-3%||1.50%||$12.71||Short-term on-the-job training|
|49-3031||Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists||64,127||58,829||59,068||-5,059||-8%||1.40%||$18.86||Postsecondary vocational award|
|43-4051||Customer Service Representatives||58,685||57,930||58,573||-112||0%||1.40%||$14.68||Moderate-term on-the-job training|
|49-3011||Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians||63,341||54,665||54,774||-8,567||-14%||1.30%||$24.94||Postsecondary vocational award|
|43-5011||Cargo and Freight Agents||47,860||53,328||54,201||6,341||13%||1.30%||$17.93||Moderate-term on-the-job training|
|53-2011||Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers||63,326||50,619||50,281||-13,045||-21%||1.20%||$50.58||Bachelor's degree|
Outside of airline pilots, the other jobs on this list typically require some form of on-the-job training or postsecondary vocational award and none pays more than $20 per hour (national median average).
Truck drivers is the most common occupation found across these industries, and it added the most jobs since 2001. This really isn’t a big surprise given the size of the trucking sector. In addition, driver occupations make up four of the top nine jobs that staff these transportation industries.
- Truck drivers, heavy and tractor trailer – This occupation accounts for almost a third of all jobs in the sector. There are currently an estimated 1.37 million jobs in this sector (with 174,000 jobs added since 2001). And at $18 per hour (national median hourly wage), this is also the highest-paying occupation related to driving.
- Taxi drivers and chauffeurs – Second on our list, taxi drivers account for 6% of all jobs in the sector with just under 245,000 in 2012.
- Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand – This is another low-wage, low-skill occupation that is prevalent in the transportation sector.
It’s clear from this data that certain portions of the transportation sector are thriving. But air transport has been in major decline, and many of the growing occupations associated with the sector are low paying or don’t require significant education or training.
In our next post we review the top cities for transportation.
Data and analysis come from Analyst, EMSI’s web-based labor market tool. If you would like to learn more, please contact us. Find out more about EMSI and our data here. You can reach us via Twitter @DesktopEcon or by emailing Rob Sentz (firstname.lastname@example.org).