Towson University: Freight Rail Commodity Flow Analysis

Download the Report

Towson University’ Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI), commissioned by AAR, found that freight rail created $220 billion in economic activity, generated nearly $26 billion in state and federal tax revenues and supported 1.1 million jobs nationally in 2017 alone. The RESI analysts completed a second report, which includes 2014 data (the most recently available), that analyzes commodity transportation costs to quantify the economic and fiscal effects resulting from the shipment of commodities via Class I railroads. The following highlights are for 2014, which are the most recently available:

Steel and Steel-Related Commodities

Steel is one of the most widely used metals on earth – and the U.S. is the world’s third largest steel producer.

  • Amount Spent on Shipping: $9.6 billion
  • Direct Jobs Supported: 24,500+
  • Economic Output Generated: Approximately $23.4 billion

Power Generation and Distribution Commodities

Power generation and distribution commodities, such as coal, are some of the most essential products transported by Class I railroads.

  • Amount Spent on Shipping: $14.2 billion
  • Direct Jobs Supported: 36,000+
  • Economic Output Generated: Approximately $34.6 billion

Drilling-Related and Crude Oil Commodities

The U.S. is the third-largest producer of crude oil in the world and the number one consumer of petroleum products (derived from crude oil).

  • Amount Spent on Shipping: $5.8 billion
  • Direct Jobs Supported: 4,500+
  • Economic Output Generated: Approximately $14.1 billion

Agriculture Products

Approximately 25% of chemical products shipped in the U.S. are shipped via rail and fertilizers are a substantial portion.

  • Amount Spent on Shipping: $11.2 billion
  • Direct Jobs Supported: 28,500+
  • Economic Output Generated: Approximately $27.4 billion

Building Construction Commodities

The construction industry plays a critical role in the national economy, employing more than 6.6 million people as of August 2016, and adding approximately 4% the national GDP.

  • Amount Spent on Shipping: $10.1 billion
  • Direct Jobs Supported: 25,500+
  • Economic Output Generated: Approximately $24.6 billion
Back to Data Center