Transport industry profile changing little: BITRE

Data spotlights transport industry’s value – and lack of diversity

Transport industry profile changing little: BITRE
Image from the report's cover


The Transport, postal and warehousing (TPW) sector adds some $85 billion per year to the Australian economy, while its workforce is predominantly male, older and ‘generally less educated’ – but earns more – than workers of other industries.

That’s according to Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) data in its National profile of Transport, postal and warehousing workers in 2016, released today.

This information sheet is an update of BITRE's previous study on the same subject which used ABS 2011 census data.

"This study used ABS 2016 census data and provides details of the sub-industries in which TPW workers are employed, their employment status, hours worked, gender, age, occupation, educational qualifications, income, work location and commuting behaviour.

"It also describes some of the key changes that have occurred since 2011, such as the ageing and upskilling of the TPW workforce."

Read BITRE's analysis of the sea freight industry, here

Key information includes:

• The TPW industry is a significant contributor to the national economy, accounting for 4.9 per cent (or $85.0 billion) of value added in 2017–18 and employing 651,600 persons as of May 2019.

• Total transport activity contributed 7.4 per cent of Australian GDP in 2015-16, with 4.6 per cent due to TPW and a further 2.7 per cent due to transport activity in other industries. Total transport value added was $125.3 billion in 2015-16, and there were 1.0 million persons in transport-related employment across the economy, representing 8.6 per cent of all employed persons.

• 42 per cent of TPW employment was in Road transport (principally in Road freight transport), according to the 2016 census. Other key sub-industries are Postal and courier pick-up and delivery services (16 per cent), Transport support services (13 per cent) and Air and space transport (10 per cent).

• Between 2011 and 2018, the TPW industry added 65 700 employed persons, according to the ABS Labour Force Survey. Most of this growth (52,200 employed persons) was in Road transport.

• The TPW workforce is largely male, with 77 per cent of jobs held by males in 2016, compared to 52 per cent of all jobs. The male employment share has barely changed over the last decade.

• As of 2016, 25.4 per cent of TPW workers were aged 55 and over, which is considerably higher than the all-industry figure of 19.2 per cent. The TPW workforce has been ageing more rapidly than the overall workforce—from 2011 to 2016, the proportion aged 55 and over rose by 2.5 percentage points in TPW, compared to a 1.6 percentage point rise for total employment.

• Most people who work in the TPW industry are employed on a full-time basis (75 per cent). While a relatively high proportion reported working 49 or more hours per week, this proportion declined by 4.3 percentage points between 2011 and 2016 (from 26.8 to 22.5 per cent).

• Machinery operators and drivers contribute 44 per cent of TPW employment, compared to 6 per cent of total employment. The single most important occupation is Truck drivers, with 78,500 working in TPW in 2016, representing a decline of 6,400 from 2011.

• People employed in TPW are generally less educated than the average Australian worker—53 per cent hold a recognised post-school qualification (compared to 66 per cent of all employed persons), while 16 per cent hold bachelor degree or higher qualifications (compared to 31 per cent of all employed persons). However, educational attainment did improve from 2011 to 2016, with 43,700 additional TPW workers holding recognised post-school qualifications.

• The shift towards higher levels of educational attainment within the TPW industry—in 2016, there were 20,500 additional TPW employed persons who held bachelor degree or higher qualifications (compared to 2011), and 24,100 fewer persons holding neither Year 12 nor post-school qualifications. However, despite this strong growth in educational attainment, the number of TPW employed persons with bachelor degree or higher qualifications (16.1 per cent) continues to remain well below the national proportion of 30.8 per cent for all employed persons.

• Since 2011, average weekly earnings growth for TPW has outpaced the all-industry total (averaging 2.9 versus 2.5 per cent growth per annum). There is evidence of particularly high income growth in the Rail transport sub-industry and for Air transport professionals (e.g. pilots) between 2011 and 2016.

The full report is available here.

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook