Employment in Transportation, United States, 1990-2021

Employment in Transportation United States 1990 2021

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, National Transportation Statistics, table 3-23.

Transportation is a significant source of employment, namely since the operation of vehicles, such as trucks or buses, is labor-intensive. In advanced economies, it employs between 3% and 8% of the total labor force. In the United States, transportation directly employed 6.1 million people in 2021, about 4.2% of the workforce. The dominant sector of employment involves motor vehicle operators, namely truck drivers, many of which are owner-operators. Support activities include air traffic control services, marine cargo handling, and motor vehicle towing. Couriers, urban transit, and the air transport industry are significant employers. Although it carries vast amounts of freight, the rail sector is more capital-intensive than labor-intensive.

In recent years, warehousing and courier work have experienced the most significant growth, which is associated with the growth of e-commerce, particularly at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.