Bureau of Labor Statistics Data
BLS releases multiple workforce datasets. Our dashboard features relevant demographic data about the composition of the U.S. transit workforce sourced from BLS’ Current Population Survey; summaries of BLS’ occupational projections; and data about wages and typical education and training levels in selected occupations sourced from several BLS databases. These data are accurate, up-to-date, and nationally representative, and allow analysis based on specific occupations. However, demographic data are not available for all occupations or for workers in occupations within specific industries. Therefore, the dashboard presents summaries for transit-related occupations across the entire U.S. economy, inclusive of both public transit workers and those employed in other industries. Data reflect annual averages.
Lightcast Occupation Data
Data from Lightcast, a labor market information platform, are used to illustrate recent trends in employment in transit-related occupations. Lightcast combines multiple public data sources to create occupational datasets suited for time series analysis.
The transit-related occupations for which BLS and Lightcast data are presented were chosen from a list of transportation occupations created by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That list is available here. The subset of occupations presented here were chosen based on relevance to public transit specifically, and data availability, as certain types of data (e.g., demographics) are not provided for smaller occupations.
National Transit Database Data
NTD collects data on a variety of agency characteristics from transit systems across the U.S. Each year, NTD releases data on transit employment, some of which are used in this dashboard. All recipients of Urbanized Area Formula Program (5307) or Rural Formula Program (5311) funds are required to report to NTD. The reporting body includes 3,000 or more transit systems, but only Full Reporters (systems receiving Urbanized Area Formula Grants and operating more than 30 vehicles or either fixed guideway or high intensity busways) report employment data. NTD aggregates employees into broad categories (e.g., vehicle operations, vehicle maintenance), not by specific occupational classifications. Employment statistics reflect directly operated services only. Not all transit providers are required to report to NTD and thus these data do not reflect all transit employees in the U.S. For more information, please visit https://www.transit.dot.gov/ntd.
NTD’s mode categories were grouped in this dashboard in the following ways: “bus” includes bus, bus rapid transit, commuter bus, and trolley bus; “light rail” includes light rail and street car rail; and “other” includes Alaska Railroad, cable car, ferryboat, hybrid rail, inclined plane, monorail/automated guideway, and vanpool. This re-categorization simplifies the charts and makes them more straightforward to the viewer, particularly in light of the relatively small number of workers in many of the categories.
FTA requires full reporters to NTD to report labor into two categories: operating and capital. Operating labor is the personnel necessary to carry out the day-to-day requirements for providing transit service; it is made up of vehicle operations, vehicle maintenance, facility maintenance, and general administration. Capital labor is the personnel involved in the purchase of equipment and construction of facilities. The dashboard focuses primarily on the operating category, which encompasses most frontline transit workers. Several charts include total operating, which is the compilation of the 4 classifications under operating labor.