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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Transportation Services Contributed 5.6% to U.S. GDP in 2021; an Increase from 5.4% in 2020 but Below 5.8% in 2019

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Transportation contributed $1.3 trillion (5.6%) to the economy in 2021

Transportation services (for-hire, in-house, and household) contributed $1.3 trillion (5.6%) to an enhanced U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)1 of $23.7 trillion in 2021—as measured by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics' (BTS) Transportation Satellite Accounts (TSAs). The TSAs measure the full contribution of transportation to the economy from three types of transportation activities:

  • $0.7 trillion or 2.9% of 2021 GDP from for-hire transportation, 
  • $0.2 trillion or 1.0% of 2021 GDP from transportation activities carried out by non-transportation industries for their own purposes (known as in-house transportation), 
  • $0.4 trillion or 1.7% of 2021 GDP from transportation activities carried out by households using personal motor vehicles. 

Accounting for the contribution of in-house and household transportation doubles the overall contribution of transportation to the economy as measured by GDP (figure 1). Including in-house transportation brought transportation up from the sixth largest contributor (out of eight sectors) to the fifth largest contributor to the economy in 2021. 

 

 

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transportation Satellite Accounts, available at www.bts.gov/satellite-accounts

 

Transportation’s Contribution to the Economy Rose in 2021 from 2020 But Remains Below 2019

The contribution of transportation to enhanced-GDP rose from 5.4% in 2020 to 5.6%in 2021 but remains below the pre-pandemic level of 5.8% in 2019 due to for-hire air, rail, truck, and water transportation contributing less in 2021 than in 2019. For-hire air, rail, truck, and water transportation’s contribution to GDP remained unchanged in 2021 from 2020 (1.3%) but was 0.4 percentage points below its 2019 contribution. All other for-hire2 transportation’s contribution rose 0.1 percentage points in 2021, up from the 2019 and 2020 level (1.5% in 2019 and 2020 to 1.6% in 2021).
The contribution of in-house air, rail, water, and truck transportation rose 0.1 percentage points (from 0.9% in 2020 to 1.0% in 2021); bringing in-house transportation’s contribution to the economy up to the same level as 2019. Household transportation contributed the same share to GDP in 2021 as in 2019 and 2020 (1.7%).

 

 

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transportation Satellite Accounts, available at www.bts.gov/satellite-accounts

 

BTS released the TSAs with data for 2010 and revised years 2017 to 2020. BTS publishes several interactive visualizations highlighting the TSAs, including the Contribution of Transportation Services to the Economy and the Transportation Satellite Accounts, The Use of Transportation by Industry or Sector, and the Industry Snapshots


1Enhanced GDP is the sum of GDP published in the U.S. National Accounts by the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the contribution of household transportation.

2All other for-hire transportation includes transit and passenger ground transportation (excluding state and local government passenger transit); sightseeing transportation and transportation support; parcel delivery, courier, and messenger services (excluding U.S. Postal Service); warehousing and storage; and other transportation and support activities.