Use of Transportation by Industry

The importance of transportation to the production of goods and services can be measured through the use of transportation by industries. Use can be represented both as an absolute dollar value (as in the TSA use table) and as a requirement per dollar of industry output (as in the TSA direct requirements table). The latter estimates the importance of transportation relative to all other inputs in producing output and hence the intensity to which transportation is used in the production process. In many cases, the intensity of transportation leads to a different conclusion about the importance of transportation than the one indicated by the absolute dollar value. Industries producing more output, measured in absolute dollars, tend to use a larger amount of transportation because of their greater output. They, however, may use transportation less intensely than industries producing less output (again measured in absolute dollars) if they require less transportation per dollar of industry output. This may result, for example, from greater production efficiency and/or from using transportation that costs less.

  • Wholesale/retail trade was the largest user of all transportation services—both for-hire and in-house transportation—in 2002 ($107.6 billion) through 2006 ($185.9 billion).

  • The utilities industry used less transportation services (for-hire and in-house combined) than wholesale/retail trade in 2002 through 2006 but was the most intense user in 2002, requiring 7.3¢ of transportation per dollar of output. The wholesale and retail trade industry was the most intense user of all transportation services in 2003 through 2006 (requiring 6.7¢ in 2003, 7.0¢ in 2004, 7.4¢ in 2005, and 7.9¢ of transportation per dollar of output in 2006).

  • From 2002 through 2006, the manufacturing industry used the largest amount of for-hire air, rail, truck, and water transportation combined ($73.2 billion in 2002 and $105.3 billion in 2006); while wholesale/retail trade used the largest combined amount of in-house air, rail, truck, and water transportation services ($54.2 billion in 2002 and $94.6 billion in 2006).

  • The utilities industry used less for-hire air, rail, truck, and water transportation than the manufacturing industry, but required the most for-hire air, rail, truck, and water transportation per dollar of output (2.8¢ relative to 1.9¢) in 2002. The utilities industry was replaced by the manufacturing industry as the most intense user of for-hire air, rail, truck, and water transportation in 2003 through 2006. The utilities industry used for-hire transportation less intensely in 2003 through 2006, because it used relatively less for-hire transportation during that time period than in 2002. The utilities industry did not use in-house transportation as a substitute because it also used less in-house transportation in 2003 through 2006 than in 2002.

  • Wholesale/retail trade required the largest amount of in-house air, rail, truck, and water transportation services ($54.2 billion in 2002 and $94.6 billion in 2006) and was the most intense user of in-house transportation services per dollar of output in the years 2002 through 2006 (requiring 3.1¢ in 2002 and 4.0¢ of transportation per dollar of output in 2006).

(See tables 2 and 3. For further detail, see Appendix A, tables 1 and 2 at this page.)