Legacy Book

You are here

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 1.pdf

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) estimates that transportation directly created $692.0 billion of economic activity by moving goods in 2014. BTS measures this contribution to the gross domestic product in the Transportation Satellite Accounts (TSAs). The most current TSAs are for 20141.

figure 1-1

Measurement Method and Meaning

BTS produces the TSAs, which provide a comprehensive measure of transportation activity (e.g., trucking carried out by grocers to move goods from distribution centers to stores and depreciation from households driving personal motor vehicles) in the United States. BTS builds on the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s (BEA’s) input-output (I-O) accounts. The I-O accounts show the value of all for-hire transportation in the United States and the industries using for-hire transportation. For-hire transportation consists of the services provided by transportation firms to industries and the public on a fee-basis, such as air carriers, railroads, transit agencies, common carrier trucking companies, and pipelines. Part of the TSAs reorganizes the I-O accounts to show the dollar value of transportation activity carried out by nontransportation industries for their own purposes (known as business-related in-house transportation). For-hire and business-related in-house transportation activity contributed $692.0 billion to the economy in 2014 (figure 1-1).

The TSAs also show the value of transportation carried out by households through the use of their private motor vehicles (known as household production of transportation services (HPTS)2. The I-O accounts do not show the dollar value of in-house transportation activity or HPTS.

The TSAs use the same structure as the U.S. I-O accounts and consist of four tables, quantifying transportation’s role and impact.

  • make table: measures the value of transportation services that each transportation industry makes,
  • use table: measures the amount of transportation used by each industry and sector in the economy and the contribution of each industry and sector to the economy,
  • direct requirements table: measures the amount of transportation required to produce one dollar of each product, and
  • total requirements table: measures the inputs required to produce one dollar of transportation.

This report uses information from the TSAs to highlight the role of for-hire and business-related in-house transportation in the production process for all of the nontransportation sectors listed in the U.S. I-O accounts:

  • natural resources and mining,
  • manufacturing,
  • construction,
  • utilities,
  • wholesale and retail trade, and
  • services.

For each sector, information is presented, using the latest available data3, on:

  • the sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) – nationally and by State in 2015,
  • the sector’s use of transportation by mode in 2014,
  • the amount of transportation the sector requires to produce one dollar of output in 2014,
  • the number of transportation (e.g., airline and commercial pilots, bus drivers, etc.) and material moving (e.g., cleaners of vehicles, dredge operators, etc.) workers employed by the sector in 2015,
  • the median annual wage for selected transportation occupations in the sector in 2015,
  • the number of trucks and number of truck miles accumulated by the sector in 2002, and
  • shipment characteristics (for selected sectors) in 2012.

1 The TSAs are based on the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ (BEA) Input-Output (I-O) Accounts. BEA produces detailed (benchmark) I-O data for every fifth year. BEA releases less detailed (annual) data for the years between the benchmarks. At the time of this publication, the 2007 benchmark data are the most recent detailed data available to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) for creating the TSAs. BTS produced TSAs through 2014 (using BEA’s annual data in combination with the 2007 benchmark data) and will revise the 2012-2014 TSAs when BEA releases detailed data for the year 2012.

3 Latest data as of Aug. 11, 2016.

Updated: Thursday, November 30, 2017