American industry shipped 13 billion tons of goods in 2007

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American industry shipped 13 billion tons of goods valued at almost $12 trillion in 2007, according to preliminary numbers from the 2007 Commodity Flow Survey released Tuesday, Dec. 9, by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau.

The preliminary numbers from the CFS, produced in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, show that trucks moved manufactured goods and raw materials in 2007 amounting to about 9 billion tons in shipments valued at $8.4 trillion. These totals represent more than two-thirds of the value and weight of freight shipped in the United States. Based on ton-miles, a measure derived by multiplying the weight by distance shipped, trucking and rail accounted for 40 and 37 percent, respectively, of freight being transported in 2007.

Multiple mode shipments using more than one type of transportation were second to trucking in shipment value, at $1.9 trillion for a 16 percent share, but carried only 627 million tons or 5 percent by weight. For shipments using multiple modes, parcel, U.S. Postal Service or courier carried the most by value ($1.6 trillion), but truck-rail combination carried the most weight (213 million tons).

The rail mode was the second most-used mode by weight, carrying 1.9 billion tons of freight for a 15 percent share, but only $388 billion or 3 percent of goods by value. When each individual mode’s portion of multiple mode shipments is redistributed to components of individual modal shipments, rail generated the most ton-miles, totaling almost 1.5 trillion.

Shipments totaling 7.1 billion tons, or more than 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 half the value recorded in the 2007 CFS. Smaller shipments traveled longer distances on average: Shipments of less than 50 pounds traveled an average of 716 miles, while shipments of 50 to 99 pounds traveled an average of 395 miles. More than 70 percent of total shipment value captured by the 2007 CFS is represented by shipments weighing more than 1,000 pounds, and more than 92 percent of the tons are represented by shipments of more than 10,000 pounds.

Estimates of shipment characteristics by industry are included in the CFS for the first time. The preliminary estimates show the manufacturing industry shipped 5.4 billion tons of commodities valued at $5.4 trillion and generated 1.5 trillion ton-miles in 2007, representing the largest contribution of any industry sector. The two commodities generating the most value in the 2007 CFS were electronic and office equipment and mixed freight. 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 and, most recently, in 2007. Final data will be available in December 2009.