Freight rail is one of the basic building blocks of the U.S. economy, and its impact creates an immense ripple effect that touches all regions, including the Research Triangle, and most industries.

How big is that ripple effect?

Spending by Class I railroads created nearly $274 billion in economic activity, generated almost $33 billion in total tax revenues and supported about 1.5 million jobs across the country in 2014. That’s according to findings in the most recent State of the Industry Report from the Association of American Railroads (AAR), Railinc’s parent organization.

Railroads Contribute Billions in Tax Revenue, Pay Billions in Wages

Commissioned by the AAR and released June 13, the report is the first to quantify the freight-railroad sector’s economic and fiscal impact on the U.S. The industry, the report shows, is a jobs generator, creating a wide range of opportunities in areas including business operations, mechanical services, engineering and technology. Combined, workers in these jobs earn $88 billion in wages each year.

The jobs have a broad impact on the entire economy. For example, the report found that one job in the freight rail industry supports nine others touched by the industry, including retail, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • The industry had nearly $28 billion in capital and maintenance expenditures in 2014, an amount equal to more than half of all federal government spending on transit formula grants, federal highway construction programs and airport improvement programs.

  • The industry generated $20.9 billion in federal tax revenues and $11.9 billion in state and local taxes in 2014.

  • Railroad activity supported 234,000 retail trade sector jobs, about 125,000 manufacturing jobs, and 113,000 transportation and warehousing jobs in 2014.

Railinc, Employees Help to Grow Local Economy

Railinc employees discussing rail data.

Though the report focuses on railroads’ broad economic impact, Railinc also delivers real economic benefits to the engine that helps grow the industry and the communities where our employees live right here in North Carolina, from Greensboro to Greenville. Railinc’s technology work is woven into customers’ daily operations, but the tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue the company produces also helps to generate revenue for other businesses and grow the local economy.

These contributions come in the form of partnerships with local IT and technology vendors such as Red Hat, SASCitrix and Rally, resourcing from staffing agency vendors such as The Select Group and Alphanumeric Systems, the lease on Railinc’s building, which Raleigh-based Highwood Properties owns, and even our coffee, which comes from Larry's Beans, a downtown Raleigh roaster. We contribute to the business community through the N.C. Technology Association, the Council for Entreprenurial Development and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. We are also strong backers of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, which helps feed those in need in our community. 

Railinc supports the economy, too, through its 285 employees, contractors and consultants, who use their paychecks to dine out, join PTAs, make car, house and rent payments, go to Carolina Hurricanes hockey games, shop in local stores and pay for services that enable businesses to provide jobs and pay wages that help to grow the economy. Many employees also receive a Railinc-paid education at Meredith College, N.C. State University or UNC-Chapel Hill; or they receive training through the N.C. Project Management Institute.

Railinc is proud of its technology that helps keep the North American freight rail industry moving. We're also proud that our work helps keep our employees and the Triangle moving too.

Read the entire State of the Industry Report at and see AAR President Ed Hamberger deliver a short overview at

—Railinc Corporate Communications