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Economic Importance of Transportation Services: Highlights of the Transportation Satellite Accounts
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  • Abstract:
    A new accounting tool, called the Transportation Satellite Accounts (TSA), now provides a way to measure both in-house and for-hire transportation services. The TSA, developed jointly by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Department of Commerce, is statistically and conceptually consistent with the national accounts used to calculate gross domestic product (GDP), the measure of net output of goods and services in the U.S. economy. This article gives the key findings based on using the new transportation satellite accounts tool, based on the 5-year Economic Census; 1992 is the most recent year for which complete data are available. The key findings are the following: Transportation services contributed about $313 billion, or 5 percent of the value generated by the U.S. economy in 1992. Trucking accounts for 65 percent of the total value-added by transportation services. Transportation will continue to play a key role in the economy, even as the economy shifts from a manufacturing focus to a focus on services. Transportation may have a greater influence on the competitiveness of U.S. products in international markets than previously thought, and the economic benefits of transportation infrastructure investments are larger than estimates based on for-hire transportation data alone. Although the TSA demonstrates that transportation services command a much larger role in the economy than previously understood, the picture is still incomplete.
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