For-Hire Transportation

For-Hire Transportation

For-hire transportation industries contributed $314.3 billion to the U.S. economy1 in 2003, a less than 1 percent increase from $217.2 billion in 1993 (in 2000 chained dollars2) (figure 9-4). Over the same period, this segment's share in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hovered around 3 percent. This suggests that the for-hire transportation segment of the economy has been growing at about the same rate as has GDP.

Among for-hire transportation industries, trucking, air, and the combined category of other transportation and support activities3 contributed the largest amount to GDP (figure 9-5). In 2003, they accounted for $88.0 billion, $73.7 billion, and $71.3 billion, respectively-almost three-quarters of the net output of the for-hire transportation industries.

Air transportation's contribution grew the most (146 percent) between 1993 and 2003, despite a slight dip of 1 percent between 2000 and 2001. Air more than gained back this loss by increasing its contribution to GDP by 7 percent the next year. The contributions of warehousing and storage and other transportation and support activities grew 96 percent and 32 percent, respectively between 1993 and 2003. Meanwhile, rail's contribution grew the least at 5 percent, while water transportation rose 13 percent and pipeline, 10 percent [1].

For-hire transportation is one component of the nation's transportation services. The second is in-house transportation services. For-hire transportation services are provided by firms for a fee, while in-house transportation services are provided by nontransportation establishments for their own use. For instance, when a retail store uses its own trucks to move goods from one place to another, it is providing an in-house service.

Time-series data on in-house transportation services are not readily available. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics analyzed the contribution of in-house transportation services to GDP in 2000, using 1996 data, and is in the process of updating that work. The earlier analysis estimated that in-house transportation contributed $142 billion (in 1996 dollars) to the economy in 1996, while for-hire transportation contributed $243 billion.4


1. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, "Gross Domestic Product by Industry," available at, as of January 2005.

1 As measured in net output or value added to the economy.

2 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 2000 dollars, unless otherwise specified. To eliminate the effects of inflation over time, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics converted current dollars (which are available in appendix B of this report) to chained 2000 dollars.

3 This segment includes scenic and sightseeing transportation, support activities for transportation (see table 9-5 in appendix B for examples), and couriers and messengers.

4 The full results of the 2000 study appear in Transportation Statistics Annual Report 2000, available at, as of March 2005.