Labor Productivity in Transportation

Labor Productivity in Transportation

Labor productivity (output per hour) in the for-hire transportation services and petroleum pipeline industries increased by 16 percent from 1991 to 2001. This compares with an increase of 44 percent for all manufacturing and 23 percent for the overall business sector (figure 1-1). Labor productivity, a common and basic productivity measure, is calculated as the ratio of output to hours worked or to the number of full-time employees.

The growth of individual transportation subsector labor productivity between 1991 and 2001 varied1 (figure 1-2). Compared with the overall business sector, rail labor productivity increased at a considerably higher rate (64 percent). Meanwhile, labor productivity in air transportation increased 18 percent and long-distance trucking productivity grew 12 percent.

Comparing annual growth rates is another way to interpret changes of labor productivity over time. For overall business, labor productivity grew at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent between 1991 and 2001. Labor productivity in rail transportation—where productivity has been affected by consolidation of companies, more efficient use of equipment and lines, increased ton-miles (output), and labor force reductions—increased by 5.0 percent annually. For long-distance trucking and air transportation, average annual rates of growth were 1.1 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

1 At the time this report was prepared, data were only available for 1991 through 2000 for local trucking, petroleum pipeline, and bus carriers. See detailed notes on tables 1-1 and 1-2 for further information.