The Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics career cluster is expected to see about average growth between 2010 and 2020. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that total employment in this cluster was 11.2 million in 2010 and projects that it will grow to almost 13 million in 2020. Overall, the cluster is expected to have over 4.4 million job openings, almost 1.7 million of which will come from newly created jobs.
Cluster Overview: Expectations for Change, 2010-2020
The fastest growing occupation in Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics by far is Bicycle Repairers. This tiny occupation that employed fewer than 10,000 workers in 2010 is projected to grow by 38 percent through 2020. Does this herald a change in the future direction of the cluster? It might.
Although we think of our need for transportation as unidirectional and ever-increasing, in fact this need is shaped by changing technology, economy, and culture, just like the needs that drive change in every other career cluster. For the first time in generations, Americans are driving less, particularly young adults. The average young person age 16-34 drove 23 percent fewer miles in 2009 than the average young person in 2001 and took 24 percent more bike trips. As young people connect more through the internet, earn lower wages, and have more environmental and fitness concerns, their transportation patterns change.
This does not mean that students should give up on automotive technology programs and take up bike repair instead. Even though bicycle repair is growing rapidly, the BLS estimates that there will still be 50 job openings in auto technology for every one opening in bike repair. But it does mean that this industry is likely to be changing over the next decade.
BLS data on the fastest growing occupations don't suggest that there is a single overwhelming pattern of change that is affecting all transportation occupations, as is the case in some clusters. Instead, there seems to be a range of different forces impacting different occupations. Changing driving trends among youth are expected to push up demand for Bicycle Repairers and Motorcycle Mechanics. The aging population is increasing the need for Ambulance Drivers. Economic recovery is expected to boost demand for Cargo and Freight Agents as more goods are shipped to customers. And the increasing complexity of the global economy increases the need for Logisticians, the specialists who analyze and coordinate supply chains.
Railroad occupations predominate among the fast declining and very slow growing occupations. Although the demand for rail services is rising, increases in productivity are expected to hold back employment growth.
- Locomotive Firers (-5%)
- Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators (-4%)
- Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators, and Hostlers (-4%)
- Signal and Track Switch Repairers (-2%)
- Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators (-2%)
- Locomotive Engineers (4.4%)
Projections Data: What the BLS tells us about employment
Every two years the BLS releases new national employment projections for over 700 different occupations. The projections include five important pieces of information discussed in this post.
Estimated 2010 employment: The estimated number of jobs or positions in each occupation. (This is a count of positions, not workers; many people have two jobs).
Projected 2020 employment: The estimated number of jobs or positions in each occupation. (A count of positions, not workers; many people have two jobs).
Numeric Change 2010-2020 or "New Jobs:" Most occupations are expected grow by 2020 as employers create new positions or "new jobs."
Percent Change 2010-2020: The percent increase or decrease in employment over the decade. This information helps us compare the rate of change across jobs of different sizes.
Job Openings 2010-2020: Job opportunities arise in two ways: when employers create new jobs and when workers retire or leave an occupation and need to be replaced by new hires. The BLS projects how many people will be retiring from each occupation over the decade and combines this with the number of new jobs to predict how many "job openings" will become available. Even shrinking occupations have job openings because employers need to replace some of the people who retire with new workers.
The original national system of career clusters divided Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics into six pathways: Facility and Mobile Equipment Management; Logistics Planning and Management Service; Sales and Service; Transportation Operations; Transportation System/Infrastructure Planning, Management, and Regulation; and Warehouse and Distribution Center Operations. They have recently added a seventh pathway: Health, Safety and Environmental Management. Unfortunately, the BLS tracks occupation data in a way that gives us good information about only two pathways: Facility and Mobile Equipment Maintenance and Transportation Operations. They don't make projections for employment in, for example, Vehicle Sales or Transportation Planning.
- Transportation Operations was the largest pathway in 2010 and will remain the largest pathway in 2020. The BLS tracks 29 occupations related to transportation operations which employed over 4.7 million workers in 2010. The three largest occupations in the cluster, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers, Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers, are expected to account for approximately 65% of all job openings in this pathway through 2020.
- Facility and Mobile Equipment Maintenance, which includes occupations from Rail Track Laying Equipment Operators to Automotive Technicians to Bicycle Repairers, is expected to see about average growth between 2010 and 2020. The pathway employed almost 2 million workers in 2010 and is expected to employ about 2.3 million workers by 2020. The pathway is projected to have over 825,000 job openings between 2010 and 2020, about 319,000, or 39%, of which are expected to be from new jobs.
- Warehouse and Distribution Center Operation is another large cluster, but the information we have about it is not useful. The BLS does not provide projections specific to this pathway, and most of the occupations included here also have significant employment in other career clusters. For example, the largest occupation included here is Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, but most of the workers in this occupations are not employed in Warehousing.
- Only one occupation is crosswalked to Transportation Systems/Infrastructure Planning: Traffic Technicians.
- Logistics Planning and Management includes just one occupation: Logisticians.
- Thousands of people work in transportation Sales and Service but the BLS does not track occupations this way and does not make projections for them.
Pathways Employment Overview (in 1000s)
|Pathways and Number of Occupations Included||Employment 2010||Employment 2020||New Jobs||Percent Change||Job Openings|
|Facility and Mobile Equipment Maintenance (18)|
Transportation Operations (29)
Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations (6)
Logistics Planning and Management Services (1)
Sales and Service (2)
Transportation Systems/Infrastructure Planning, Management, and Regulation (1)
Related Engineering Occupations from STEM (3)
Job Openings and New Jobs
The BLS projects "job openings" for each occupation that arise from the combination of new jobs and the need to replace workers who retire. In total, the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics cluster is expected to have over 4.4 million job openings between 2010 and 2020. About 38% of all job openings in this cluster are projected to come from new jobs.
The top ten occupations in Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (out of 61 total occupations) account for over 75% of expected job openings in the cluster. The occupations expected to have the most job openings are:
- Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers (980,200)
- Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers (649,400)
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics (311,700)
- Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers (295,900), and
- Packers and Packagers, Hand (251,600)
The following table gives a complete picture of how the occupations in Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics are changing between 2010 and 2020.
Employment Projections (in 1000s)
|Pathways and Occupations Included||Employment 2010||Employment 2020||Numeric Change||Percent Change||Job openings, 2010-20|
|Facility and Mobile Equipment Maintenance||1,944.30||2,263.60||319.3||16%||825.8|
|Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators||15.0||15.3||0.3||1.9||4.2|
|Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers, Transportation Equipment||12.7||13.0||0.3||2.1||3.4|
|Electronic Equipment Installers and Repairers, Motor Vehicles||16.0||16.4||0.4||2.8||4.4|
|Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians||123.8||131.6||7.8||6.3||45.2|
|Automotive Body and Related Repairers||152.9||181.1||28.2||18.4||65.2|
|Automotive Glass Installers and Repairers||18.1||22.6||4.5||25.0||9.2|
|Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics||723.4||848.2||124.8||17.2||311.7|
|Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists||242.2||277.4||35.2||14.5||87.8|
|Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Except Engines||124.6||144.8||20.2||16.2||52.5|
|Rail Car Repairers||21.7||25.4||3.7||16.9||9.3|
|Motorboat Mechanics and Service Technicians||20.8||25.0||4.3||20.6||9.6|
|Recreational Vehicle Service Technicians||9.9||12.1||2.2||22.3||4.8|
|Tire Repairers and Changers||99.0||117.3||18.3||18.5||43.9|
|Signal and Track Switch Repairers||7.1||7.0||-0.1||-2.0||1.3|
|Cleaners of Vehicles and Equipment||310.6||370.8||60.1||19.4||152.3|
|Logistics Planning and Management Services||108.9||136.7||27.8||25.5||48.7|
|Sales and Service||587||710.7||123.7||21%||231.8|
|Billing and Posting Clerks||504.8||604.4||99.6||19.7||187.6|
|Cargo and Freight Agents||82.2||106.3||24.1||29.3||44.2|
|Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers||98.6||108.5||9.9||10.0||33.7|
|Dispatchers, Except Police, Fire, and Ambulance||185.2||219.6||34.4||18.6||69.5|
|Aircraft Cargo Handling Supervisors||6.3||7.6||1.3||20.3||2.6|
|Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers||70.8||75.3||4.5||6.4||31.3|
|Air Traffic Controllers||27.0||26.2||-0.8||-2.9||10.2|
|Airfield Operations Specialists||6.9||7.5||0.6||8.4||3.2|
|Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians||19.6||25.9||6.3||32.1||10.1|
|Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity||186.3||213.8||27.5||14.8||63.5|
|Bus Drivers, School or Special Client||460.9||516.4||55.5||12.0||144.5|
|Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers||1,604.8||1,934.9||330.1||20.6||649.4|
|Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers||856.0||981.6||125.6||14.7||295.9|
|Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs||239.9||286.9||47.0||19.6||76.7|
|Motor Vehicle Operators, All Other||64.6||71.7||7.2||11.1||19.7|
|Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators, and Hostlers||5.6||5.4||-0.2||-3.6||2.0|
|Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators||21.7||20.8||-0.9||-4.2||7.1|
|Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters||40.8||42.7||1.9||4.7||14.3|
|Subway and Streetcar Operators||6.5||7.1||0.6||9.8||2.8|
|Rail Transportation Workers, All Other||3.1||3.2||0.0||1.3||1.1|
|Sailors and Marine Oilers||33.4||40.5||7.1||21.3||21.5|
|Captains, Mates, and Pilots of Water Vessels||36.1||43.4||7.3||20.4||20.7|
|Bridge and Lock Tenders||3.5||3.4||0.0||-1.1||1.0|
|Transportation Attendants, Except Flight Attendants||24.8||27.6||2.8||11.1||7.5|
|Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators||522.2||583.8||61.5||11.8||209.5|
|Transportation Systems/ Infrastructure Planning, Management, and Regulation||6.9||7.7||0.8||11%||2.8|
|Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations||3,809.60||4,262.60||453||12%||1,561.80|
|Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks||687.6||689.5||2.0||0.3||177.4|
|First-Line Supervisors of Helpers, Laborers, and Material Movers, Hand||167.4||212.9||45.5||27.2||80.0|
|First-Line Supervisors of Transportation and Material-Moving Machine and Vehicle Operators||198.7||227.1||28.4||14.3||69.3|
|Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand||2,068.2||2,387.3||319.1||15.4||980.2|
|Packers and Packagers, Hand||677.3||735.2||57.9||8.6||251.6|
|Tank Car, Truck, and Ship Loaders||10.4||10.6||0.2||2.1||3.3|
|Transportation Workers, All Other||33.4||37.8||4.4||13.2||14.4|
|Material Moving Workers, All Other||29.8||33.2||3.4||11.4||6.0|
|Related STEM Occupations||95.6||100.5||4.9||5%||25.8|
|Marine Engineers and Naval Architects||5.9||7.0||1.0||17.5||2.3|
|Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians||8.7||8.5||-0.1||-1.6||1.7|