BTS Releases Nationwide Freight Data: American Industry Shipped 11.7 Billion Tons of Goods in 2012

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BTS 55-13

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Contact: Dave Smallen

Tel: 202-366-5568



BTS Releases Nationwide Freight Data:

American Industry Shipped 11.7 Billion Tons of Goods in 2012 



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 (CFS) released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau.


BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the 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 United States amounting to about 8 billion tons in shipments valued at $10 trillion. These shipments represent more than 70 percent of both the value and the weight of freight as reported in the 2012 CFS. The CFS covers about three-fourths of all freight movements, excluding imports, shipments from farms, crude oil production, and a few smaller categories.


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 percent of total freight value.  These multiple modes carried only 347 million tons or 3.0 percent of total freight weight. Of all multiple-mode shipments, parcel represented the most by value ($1.6 trillion or 11.6 percent of total freight value) while truck-rail combination carried the most weight (224 million tons or 1.9 percent of total freight weight).


Rail was the second most-used mode by weight, carrying 1.8 billion tons of freight for a 16 percent share by weight but only $455 billion or 3 percent 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 percent of the total.


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


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 percent of total shipment value captured by the 2012 CFS is represented by shipments weighing over 1,000 pounds. More than 92 percent 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 CFS is the primary source of national and state-level data on domestic freight shipments by American establishments in mining, manufacturing, wholesale, auxiliaries, and selected retail industries. Data are provided on the types, origins and destinations, values, weights, modes of transport, distance shipped, and ton-miles of commodities shipped. The CFS is a shipper-based survey and is conducted every five years as part of the Economic Census. It provides a modal picture of national freight flows, and represents the only publicly available source of commodity flow data for the highway mode. The CFS was conducted in 1993, 1997, 2002, 2007, and most recently in 2012.


The 2012 CFS preliminary data tables are available through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder.


            Final CFS data are scheduled to be released in December 2014. CFS data products and information on survey coverage, contents, and methods can be found on the BTS website.