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Study: Trucks Moved More Than 70% of Manufactured Goods in 2012

December 10, 2013

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American manufacturers and related industries shipped almost 11.7 billion tons of goods valued at more than $13.6 trillion in 2012, according to preliminary numbers from the 2012 Commodity Flow Survey released by U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau.

Preliminary numbers from the CFS show that in 2012 trucks moved manufactured goods, refined petroleum products, chemicals and raw materials originating with shippers in the U.S., amounting to about 8 billion tons in shipments valued at $10 trillion. These shipments represent 73.7% of the value and 70% of the weight of freight. The CFS covers about three-fourths of all freight movements, excluding imports, shipments from farms, crude oil production, and a few smaller categories.

For-hire trucking moved $6.6 of the value of manufactured goods, or 48.5% of the total value, while private trucking transported $3.4 trillion or 32.5% of the total value. The percent of tons represented by each was 37.5% for the former and 32.5% latter.

Multiple mode shipments using more than one type of transportation, including parcel shipments, were second to trucking in shipment value, at $1.8 trillion for a share of more than 13% of total freight value. These multiple modes carried only 347 million tons or 3% of total freight weight. Of all multiple-mode shipments, parcel represented the most by value, $1.6 trillion or 11.6% of total freight value, while truck-rail combination carried the most weight, 224 million tons or 1.9% of total freight weight.

Rail was the second most-used mode by weight, carrying 1.8 billion tons of freight for a 16% share by weight but only $455 billion or 3% of goods by value. When an individual mode’s portion of multiple mode shipments is broken out and allocated to a single mode, the ton-miles generated by rail rise to 51% of the total.

Based on ton-miles, a measure derived by multiplying weight by distance shipped, rail accounted for 44.5% and trucking accounted for 38.1% of freight transported in the 2012 CFS.

Shipments totaling 6.4 billion tons, over half of the total weight of all shipments captured by the CFS, moved less than 50 miles, while shipments traveling less than 250 miles represented more than 60% of value recorded.

Shipments of less than 50 pounds traveled an average of 695 miles while shipments of 50 to 99 pounds traveled an average of 361 miles. More than 71% of total shipment value captured by the 2012 CFS is represented by shipments weighing over 1,000 pounds. More than 92% of the tons are represented by shipments of more than 10,000 pounds.

The 2012 CFS preliminary estimates show that the manufacturing industry shipped 4.3 billion tons of commodities valued at $5.7 trillion and generated 1.3 trillion ton-miles in 2012, representing the largest contribution of any industry sector. 

The two commodities generating the most value in the 2012 CFS were gasoline and related fuels and mixed freight shipments, which typically involve multiple commodities being shipped to retail locations. The commodity category with the most tonnage was gravel and crushed stone.

The last CFS that was conducted was in 2007.

For a further breakdown, you can see a chart on the U.S. Census Bureau website.

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