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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. report highlights transportation employment trends

Transportation industry employers are expected to hire and train 4.6 million workers — or the equivalent of 1.2 times the current workforce — to meet the needs of growth, retirement and turnover in the next decade, according to a new federal report.

Issued by the U.S. departments of transportation, education and labor, the report projects future employment, skills, skill gaps and training needs within the transportation industry and its different modes over the next decade.

The report addresses employment trends in rail; transit and ground passenger; trucking; highway construction and maintenance; air; and maritime.

"Careers in the transportation industry can lift Americans into the middle class or help them stay there, and this report concludes that there will be more job opportunities in the near future," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a press release.

The jobs currently in greatest demand are semi-skilled and skilled jobs in operations and maintenance. Future transportation job openings will stay concentrated in those frontline areas, with 96 percent of the openings falling in operations, maintenance and construction, the report states. For the rail industry, those positions primarily are defined as railroad conductors and yardmasters, locomotive engineers, and general and operations managers.

Net transportation job growth will occur in all but two states — Kentucky and Vermont — between 2012 and 2022. The fastest growth will occur on the West Coast and Gulf Coast, and in the upper Mid-Atlantic, several Mountain states and the Midwest.

Much of the regional job growth will be driven by growth in large cities in those regions, with the highest number of job openings likely to be generated in New York City, Dallas, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago during the 10-year period.

Retirements also will generate job opportunities in the industry. In 2014, about 53 percent of current transportation workers were 45 years or older. Those in transit and the railroad fields had the highest percentage of workers over 55 years old, at 35 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

Rail represents about 7 percent of the industry’s current employment; transit, about 20 percent. Trucking, at 42 percent, accrues the largest share of transportation employment.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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