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Between 1998 and 2005, employment in the U.S. warehousing industry grew at a compound annual growth rate of 22.23%, and the number of establishments increased at compound annual growth rate of 9.48%. Over this same period of time, the price for transportation fuels increased dramatically and became much more volatile. In this paper we examine the microeconomic and macroeconomic forces that have enabled such rapid growth in the warehousing industry. We also analyze structural change through employment and warehouse construction starts data and show that a new breed of warehouse has emerged – the mega distribution center, or mega DC.
Concerns over rising fuel prices and greenhouse-gas emissions have prompted research into the influences of built environments on travel, notably vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Accessibility to basic employment has comparatively modest effects, as do size of urbanized area, and rail-transit supplies and usage. Nevertheless, urban planning and city design should be part of any strategic effort to shrink the environmental footprint of the urban transportation sector.
This paper presents an analysis of the data and frames it in a broader context. It concludes with a description of FTA actions that address climate change.