This chapter provides an overview of the contribution of the government sector to the economy and the use of transportation by the sector.
The government sector includes goods and services provided by all Federal, State, and local government agencies. The government sector includes Federal Government services provided by agencies such as the Departments of Transportation and Defense and State and local government services, such as welfare services. The government sector also includes Federal, State, and local government enterprises. Government enterprises are government agencies that cover a substantial portion of their operating costs by selling goods and services to the public. The Federal Housing Administration and the Southeastern Power Administration are examples of Federal enterprises. The Alaska Railroad is an example of a State and local government enterprise.
In absolute dollars, the government sector uses the fourth largest amount of transportation services, but per dollar of output requires the second largest amount of transportation. The sector relies heavily on air, rail, and water transportation services but employed the largest number of transportation workers as bus drivers (see table 8-1).
In 2015 the government sector contributed $2,323.6 billion (12.9 percent) to the national economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) (figure 8-1).
The largest amount of government activity occurred in California ($300.3 billion), followed by Texas ($165.7 billion), New York ($163.4 billion), Florida ($106.2 billion), and Virginia ($88.1 billion)— each of which accounted for 4 percent or more of national activity in the government sector (figure 8-2, table 8-2). With the exception of Virginia, the States contributing the most to national activity in government are States with the largest gross state product (GSP) (table 8-2).
Computing the percent of government sector activity as a percent of GSP, rather than as a share of GDP, also provides useful insights to U.S. production. Nationally, California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Virginia lead in government sector activity in 2015. The government sector, however, accounted for a smaller share of GSP in California (12.2 percent), Texas (10.4 percent), New York (11.3 percent), Florida (12.0 percent), and Virginia (18.4 percent) than in the District of Columbia (DC). In 2015 government activity accounted for 34.6 percent of GSP in Washington, DC ($42.4 million) (see Appendix A).
The government sector was the fourth largest user of transportation services in 2014 ($152.8 billion). Looking at the use of air, rail, truck and water transportation services, the government sector used roughly two times more in-house operations ($92.5 billion) than for-hire transportation services ($40.0 billion) (figure 8-3).
The government sector used $152.8 billion of transportation services in 2014 (figure 8-3). In 2014 the government sector used:
- Primarily air, rail, and water transportation services (e.g., passenger air travel, shipment of currency, etc.), which accounted for 68.3 percent ($104,311 million) of all transportation services used by the sector.
- More in-house than for-hire air, rail, and water transportation services, with in-house accounting for nearly half (50.3 percent, or $76,903 million) of all transportation services used by the sector.
- Less truck transportation services (18.4 percent, or $28,172 million) than air, rail, and water transportation services combined.
- A relatively large share (7.1 percent, or $10,888 million) of transit and passenger ground transportation (figure 8-4).
The government sector was the second most dependent sector on transportation services in 2014, although it required half as much transportation services to produce one dollar of output compared to the most dependent sector (wholesale and retail trade). The government sector required 4.7¢ worth of transportation services to produce one dollar of output in 2014, while the most dependent sector (wholesale and retail trade) required 9.9¢ worth of transportation services to produce one dollar of output (figure 8-5).
The overall transportation requirement for the government sector (4.7¢) is relatively modest compared to other inputs. In 2014, transportation services were the third most important input, while manufactured products (e.g., paper, furniture, etc.) were the most important input. The government sector required 9.4¢ worth of manufactured products to produce one dollar of output (figure 8-6).
In 2015 the government sector employed 393,700 transportation and material moving workers, accounting for 4.1 percent of its entire work force. The sector employed more transportation workers (296,290)1 than material moving workers (97,410) (figure 8-7). Transportation workers include motor vehicle operators, ship engineers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, etc. Material moving workers support transportation activities and include occupations such as cleaners of vehicles and ship loaders.
Transportation and material moving workers in the government sector earned a median wage of $42,530 in 2015, while workers of all occupations in the government sector earned a slightly higher median wage ($49,560) (figure 8-8).
Bus drivers comprised the largest group of transportation workers in the government sector, accounting for 36.1 percent (142,270) of the sector’s transportation and material moving workforce. Bus drivers consist of transit and intercity bus drivers and school/client bus drivers. Transit and intercity bus drivers earned a slightly higher median wage ($46,270) than school/client bus drivers ($33,050). Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers accounted for the third largest number of transportation workers in the government sector (23,660) and earned a median wage of $38,670 (figure 8-8).
1 Total for transportation occupations includes supervisors of material moving workers, which could not be separated from supervisors of transportation workers.