More baby boomer-aged rail workers are retiring, and at the same time, more rail projects are popping up.
“The gap in the railroad industry of need compared to available talent is widening, since many experienced people in the industry are reaching retirement age,” Peterson said. “There is a lot of reinvestment taking place in the freight network and many transit projects are getting funded, so the demand is great for people in the railroad industry.”
Railroads have a wide footprint on the U.S. economy. For example, in 2014, rail created $274 billion in economic activity and generated $33 billion in taxes. These figures will grow even larger within the next couple of years as more rail projects are added.
According to Towson University, railroads help support:
- High-paying jobs in the industry
- Additional jobs supported by rail, involving trucks, barges or pipelines
- The connection of a wide swath of industries and consumers to the global market
- The growth of local communities because of the funds rail contributes to the market and government budgets.
The number of rail workers is shrinking, but educational opportunities to learn more about rail are growing. Peterson offers a number of rail courses at UW-Madison and around the country.
For more information, see the infographic and course links on the right, or visit epd.wisc.edu/rail.