August 2023 U.S. Transportation Sector Unemployment (4.9%) Rises Above the August 2022 Level (4.6%) And the Pre-Pandemic August 2019 Level (4.8%)
The unemployment rate in the U.S. transportation sector was 4.9% (not seasonally adjusted) in August 2023 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These data have been updated on the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Unemployment in Transportation dashboard. In August 2023, the transportation sector unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points from 4.6% in August 2022 and was just above the pre-pandemic August 2019 level of 4.8%. Unemployment in the transportation sector reached its highest level during the COVID-19 pandemic (15.7%) in May 2020 and July 2020.
Unemployment in the transportation sector was higher than overall unemployment. BLS reports that the U.S. unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, in August 2023 was 3.9% or 1.0 percentage points below the transportation sector rate. Seasonally adjusted, the U.S. unemployment rate in August 2023 was 3.8%.
Seasonally adjusted, employment in the transportation and warehousing sector fell to 6,675,300 in August 2023 — down 0.5% from the previous month and down 0.5% from August 2022. Employment in transportation and warehousing grew 17.2% in August 2023 from the pre-pandemic August 2019 level of 5,696,000. By mode (seasonally adjusted):
- Air transportation rose to 547,200 in August 2023 — up 0.6% from the previous month and up 7.1% from August 2022.
- Truck transportation fell to 1,567,600 in August 2023 — down 2.3% from the previous month and down 2.0% from August 2022.
- Transit and ground passenger transportation rose to 441,400 in August 2023 — up 1.3% from the previous month and up 6.0% from August 2022.
- Rail transportation fell to 150,200 in August 2023 — down 0.1% from the previous month but up 2.5% from August 2022.
- Water transportation rose to 68,800 in August 2023 — up 1.9% from the previous month and up 4.9% from August 2022.
- Pipeline transportation remained virtually unchanged in August 2023 at 47,400 from the previous month but down 2.5% from August 2022.
- Warehousing and storage remained virtually unchanged in August 2023 at 1,899,200 from the previous month but down 2.6% from August 2022.
NOTES: August 2019 and August 2023 employment (seasonally adjusted) not shown for water (66,200 and 68,800, respectively) or pipeline (51,600 and 47,400, respectively) transportation. All-time highs (seasonally adjusted) with records beginning in 1990: air March 2001 (633,600); pipeline July 1991 (61,200); rail January 1990 (278,100); transit June 2019 (503,800); truck January 2023 (1,611,400); warehousing and storage June 2022 (1,960,300); and water July 2008 (69,400).
In addition to updating the Unemployment in Transportation and the Employment in Transportation: Total, by Mode, and Women dashboards, BTS also updated the Race and Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity of Transportation Workers dashboard.
Charts updated this month by section include:
Unemployment in the Transportation and Warehousing Sector and in Transportation and Material Moving Occupations
Monthly Employment in the Transportation and Warehousing Sector, Establishment Data
- Monthly Employment in the Transportation and Warehousing Sector
- Monthly Employment in the Transportation and Warehousing Sector by Mode
- Women Workers in the Transportation and Warehousing Sector
Monthly Employment in the Transportation and Warehousing Sector by Race and Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity, Household Data
- Race and Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity of Employees in the Transportation and Warehousing Sector by Month (not seasonally adjusted)
Visit Transportation Economic Trends for more topics.
The unemployment rate is the total number of unemployed persons, expressed as a percentage of the civilian labor force. The civilian labor force includes all persons aged 16 and older who are employed and unemployed; meaning they are either currently working or actively looking for work. Unemployed persons include those who actively sought a job within the last four weeks. People waiting to start a new job who have not actively sought a job in the last four weeks are not counted as employed or unemployed; they are considered to be out of the labor force.
An unemployed person’s industry is the industry for the last job they held in the workforce, which may or may not reflect their current job search field or industry.