Employment of railroad workers is projected to decline 3 percent from 2014 to 2024.
Although demand for rail transportation may grow, an increase in productivity may hold back employment growth in rail occupations. Because building new tracks is expensive, freight companies have found other ways to increase capacity, such as double-stacking (stacking one railcar on top of another) or running longer trains.
However, an increase in intermodal freight—the shipment of goods through multiple transportation modes—may increase demand for railroad workers. In addition, the growing demand for crude oil transportation may result in the need for more railroad workers.
Employment of locomotive firers is projected to decline 70 percent from 2014 to 2024. Most railroads are phasing out this occupation, as their duties are typically performed by locomotive engineers and conductors.
Job opportunities should be favorable for railroad workers. More railroad workers are nearing retirement than are workers in most occupations. When these workers begin to retire, many jobs should open up, except for locomotive firers, as railroad companies will continue to phase them out of the workforce.
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Total, all occupations
Transportation and material moving occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program