General

You are here

CFS FAQs

What is the purpose of the Commodity Flow Survey (CFS)?
Who conducts the CFS and how often is it conducted?
What types of establishments are included in the CFS?
List of NAICS industries covered in the 2017 CFS
What type of information is collected in the CFS?
How were the data collected in this survey?
What are some common uses of the data?
When will data products be available from the 2017 CFS?
What are some of the differences between the 2017 survey and earlier surveys?

What is the purpose of the Commodity Flow Survey (CFS)?
The CFS assesses the demand for transportation facilities and services, energy use, and safety risk and environmental concerns.  CFS data are used by policy makers and transportation planners in various federal, state, and local agencies.  Additionally, business owners, private researchers, and analysts use the CFS data for analyzing trends in the movement of goods, mapping spatial patterns of commodity and vehicle flows, forecasting demands for the movement of goods, and determining needs for associated infrastructure and equipment.  The CFS provides a comprehensive picture of national freight flows and stands as the only publicly available source of data for the highway mode.

Who conducts the CFS and how often is it conducted?
The CFS is conducted as a partnership between the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey is conducted on a five-year cycle as a component of the economic census. Previous surveys were conducted in 1993, 1997, 2002, 2007, and 2012.

What types of establishments are included in the CFS?
The CFS is a shipper-based survey, and that captures data on shipments originating from select types of business establishments located in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The 2017 survey sampled 103,877 establishments with paid employees that were located in the United States and were classified in the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) as mining, manufacturing, wholesale, and select retail and services trade industries, namely, electronic shopping and mail-order houses, fuel dealers, and publishers.  Additionally, the survey covers auxiliary establishments (i.e., warehouses and managing offices) of multi-establishments companies.   

The CFS does not include establishments classified in transportation, construction, and most retail and services trade industries.  Other industry areas that are not covered, but may have significant shipping activity, include agriculture and government.  For agriculture, specifically, the CFS does not cover shipments of agricultural products from the farm site to the processing centers or terminal elevators (most likely short-distance local movements), but does cover the shipments of these products from the initial processing centers or terminal elevators onward.

Data for government-operated establishments are excluded from the CFS. These include public utilities, publicly-operated bus and subway systems, public libraries, and government-owned hospitals. The CFS also excludes establishments or firms with no paid employees and foreign establishments.

The NAICS industries covered in the 2017 CFS are listed in the following table:
NAICS Code
Description
212
Mining (Except Oil and Gas)
311
Food Manufacturing
312
Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing
313
Textile Mills
314
Textile Product Mills
315
Apparel Manufacturing
316
Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
321
Wood Product Manufacturing
322
Paper Manufacturing
323
Printing and Related Support Activities
324
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
325
Chemical Manufacturing
326
Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing
327
Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
331
Primary Metal Manufacturing
332
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
333
Machinery Manufacturing
334
Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing
335
Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and Component Manufacturing
336
Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
337
Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing
339
Miscellaneous Manufacturing
4231
Motor vehicle and parts merchant wholesalers
4232
Furniture and home furnishing merchant wholesalers
4233
Lumber and other construction materials merchant wholesalers
4234
Commercial equip. merchant wholesalers
4235
Metal and mineral (except petroleum) merchant wholesalers
4236
Electrical and electronic goods merchant wholesalers
4237
Hardware and plumbing merchant wholesalers
4238
Machinery, equipment, and supplies merchant wholesalers
4239
Miscellaneous durable goods merchant wholesalers
4241
Paper and paper product merchant wholesalers
4242
Drugs and druggists' sundries merchant wholesalers
4243
Apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers
4244
Grocery and related product merchant wholesalers
4245
Farm product raw material merchant wholesalers
4246
Chemical and allied products merchant wholesalers
4247
Petroleum and petroleum products merchant wholesalers
4248
Beer, wine, and distilled alcoholic beverage merchant wholesalers
4249
Miscellaneous nondurable goods merchant wholesalers
4541
Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses
45431
Fuel Dealers
4841
General Freight Trucking
4842
Specialized Freight Trucking

What type of information is collected in the CFS?
The CFS collects information about the commodities shipped by U.S. establishments. Information collected for each outbound shipment includes:

  • Shipment ID Number
  • Shipment Date (Month, Day)
  • Shipment Value
  • Shipment Weight in pounds
  • Commodity Code from Standard Classification of Transported Goods (SCTG) manual
  • Commodity Description
  • An indication of whether the shipment was temperature controlled
  • United Nations or North America (UN/NA) number for hazardous material shipments
  • U.S. Destination (city, state, zip code) – or gateway for export shipment
  • Mode(s) of transport
  • An indication of whether the shipment was an export
  • City and country of destination for exports
  • Export mode

By CFS definition, a shipment is a single movement of goods, commodities, or products from an establishment to a customer or to another establishment owned or operated by the same company as the originating establishment (e.g., a warehouse, distribution center, or retail or wholesale outlet). Full or partial truckloads are counted as a single shipment only if all commodities on the truck are destined for the same location. If a truck makes multiple deliveries on a route, the goods delivered at each stop are counted as one shipment. Interoffice memos, payroll checks, or business correspondence are not considered shipments. Shipments such as refuse, scrap paper, waste, or recyclable materials are not considered shipments unless the establishment is in the business of selling or providing these materials.

How were the data collected in this survey?
The sample for the 2017 CFS consisted of 103,877 establishments.  Each establishment selected into the 2017 CFS sample was assigned to report for four reporting weeks via questionnaire.  Each reporting week was in a separate calendar quarter and was in the same relative position each quarter.  For example, an establishment might have been requested to report data for the 5th, 18th, 31st, and 44th weeks of the survey year.  In this instance, each reporting week corresponds to the 5th week of each quarter. 

The establishments were asked to provide specific shipment information about a sample of their individual outbound shipments during the reporting week in each calendar quarter.  Respondents had the option to report electronically via Centurion, the Census Bureau’s electronic reporting system, or through paper questionnaire.

What are some common uses of the data?
Analysts and researchers in both the public and private sectors use data from the CFS for a variety of purposes, including:

  • analyzing trends in goods movement over time;
  • conducting national, regional and sectoral economic analysis;
  • developing models and analytical tools for policy analyses, management and investment decisions;
  • forecasting future demand for goods movement and associated infrastructure and equipment needs;
  • establishing benchmarks for estimating national accounts; and
  • analyzing and mapping spatial patterns of commodity and vehicle flows.

CFS data are used as the basis for the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Freight Analysis Framework, a model that displays by mode the movement of goods over the national transportation network.

In addition, the CFS Hazardous Materials report is the sole source of hazardous material flow data available for the highway mode.

When will data products be available from the 2017 CFS?
Preliminary data tables from the 2017 survey were released on December 6, 2018 and can be found here.

These tables provide shipment characteristics (value, tons, ton-miles, average miles) by:

  • mode of transport
  • total modal activity
  • distance shipped
  • shipment weight
  • type of industry
  • commodity shipped

Final data products will be released in December 2019 and will include a comprehensive set of data tables, such as:

  • shipment characteristics at the national, state, and metropolitan area levels
  • geographic flow tables by commodity, industry, and mode
  • specially tabulated tables for hazardous materials and exports
  • specially tabulated tables for temperature control

What are some of the differences between the 2017 survey and earlier surveys?
The planning and design of the 2017 CFS resulted in several major improvements to the design of the survey. Highlighted efforts and improvements included:

  • Improved sample design – the 2017 sample size was 103,877 establishments (102,565 in 2012 and 102,369 in 2007), incorporating both state-level and national-level reliability constraints;
  • NAICS 51223 (Music Publishers) was included as an in-scope publishing industry in 2017 but not in 2012.
  • In 2012 and prior surveys, Prepress Services establishments (2007 NAICS 323122) were excluded from the CFS.  However the 2012 NAICS revision eliminated Prepress Services as a separate industry and grouped it with Trade Binding and Related Work (2007 NAICS 323121) into NAICS 323120 (Support Activities for Printing).  For 2017, all of NAICS 323120 was considered to be in scope.
  • Private truck is now referred to as Company-owned truck.
  • Enhanced Geomiler software and improved mileage routing logic (to read more see "Methodological Changes to Mileage Calculation for the 2017 CFS" under the methodology section);

Back to top

The following tables include a summary comparison of the other key characteristics among the 1993, 1997, 2002, and 2007 Commodity Flow Surveys.

Comparison of Coverage
1993 and 19972002200720122017
Establishments classified based on the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification System (SIC)
Establishments classified based on 1997 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
Establishments classified based on 2002 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
Establishments classified based on 2007 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
Establishments classified based on 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
Publishers in Manufacturing Sector
Not covered
Publishers in Information Sector
Publishers in Information Sector
Publishers in Infromation Sector
Logging in Manufacturing Sector
Not in scope. Classified in agriculture (NAICS 113)
Not in scope. Classified in agriculture (NAICS 113)
Not in scope. Classified in agriculture (NAICS 113)
Not in scope.  Classified in agriculture (NAICS 113)
Other Manufacturing (excluding Printing Trade Services (SIC 279))
Other Manufacturing (excluding Prepress Services (NAICS 323122))
Other Manufacturing (excluding Prepress Services (NAICS 323122))
Other Manufacturing (excluding Prepress Services (NAICS 323122))
Prepress Services now included as part of NAICS 323120 (Support Activities for Printing). 
Mining (except mining services (SICs 108, 124, 138, 148) and oil and gas extraction (SICs 131 and 132))
Mining (except support activities (NAICS 213) and oil and gas extraction (NAICS 211))
Mining (except support activities (NAICS 213) and oil and gas extraction (NAICS 211))
Mining (except support activities (NAICS 213) and oil and gas extraction (NAICS 211))
Mining (except support activities (NAICS 213) and oil and gas extraction (NAICS 211))
Wholesale (merchants and manufacturers' sales branches and government- owned liquor stores)
Wholesale (merchants and manufacturers' sales branches and government liquor wholesales
Wholesale (merchants and manufacturers' sales branches and government liquor wholesales
Wholesale (merchants and manufacturers’ sales branches and government-owned liquor wholesales)
Wholesale (merchants and manufacturers’ sales branches and government-owned liquor wholesales)
Retail - catalog and mail order houses
Retail - electronic shopping and mail order houses
Retail - electronic shopping and mail order houses, fuel dealers
Retail - electronic shopping and mail order houses, fuel dealers
Retail - electronic shopping and mail order houses, fuel dealers
Auxiliaries (e.g., warehouses)
Auxiliaries (e.g., warehouses)
Auxiliaries (e.g., warehouses)
Auxiliaries (e.g., warehouses)
Auxiliaries (e.g., warehouses)
Generalized and Specialized Freight Trucking
 
 
General Freight Trucking (NAICS 4841) and Specialized Freight Trucking (NAICS 4842)
General Freight Trucking (NAICS 4841) and Specialized Freight Trucking (NAICS 4842) 
(1) Under NAICS, publishers were reclassified from Manufacturing (SIC 2711, 2721, 2731, 2741, and part of 2771) to Information (NAICS 5111 and 51223) and were excluded in the 2002 CFS. However, for the 2007 CFS, publishers were restored as an in-scope industry.  For the 2017 CFS, NAICS 51223 (Music Publishers) was included as an in-scope publishing industry.  They were not included in 2007 and 2012.
(2) Because of changes in the classification of establishments between SIC and NAICS, logging establishments (NAICS 1133), which were covered as part of Manufacturing in the 1993 and 1997 surveys, were not included in 2002 and future years. Detailed information about NAICS classification can be found on the Census Bureau's  Website.
(3) Includes only captive warehouses that provide storage and shipping support to a single company. Warehouses offering their services to the general public and other businesses are excluded. For tabulation and publication purposes, NAICS 484 is grouped with NAICS 4931.
 
Sample Size 
YearSample
1993Total sample size of 197,176 establishments selected from a universe of about 790,000 in-scope establishments
1997Total sample size of 102,739 establishments selected from a universe of about 770,000 in-scope establishments.

2002

Total sample size of 51,005 establishments selected from a universe of about 760,000 in-scope establishments.
2007Total sample size of 102,369 establishments selected from a universe of about 754,000 in-scope establishments.
2012Total sample size of 102,565 establishments selected from a universe of about 716,000 in-scope establishments.
2017Total sample size of 103,877 establishments selected from a universe of about 710,000 in-scope establishments.
 
Reported Mode of Transportation
19931997, 2002, and 200720122017
For-hire truck
For-hire truck
For-hire truck
For-hire truck
Private truck
Private truck
Private truck
Company-owned truck
Railroad
Railroad
Railroad
Railroad
Air
Air
Air
Air
Inland water and/or Great Lakes
Shallow draft vessel
Inland Water
Inland Water
Deep Sea Water
Deep draft vessel
Deep Sea
Deep Sea
Pipeline
Pipeline
Pipeline
Pipeline
Parcel delivery, courier, or U.S. Parcel Post
Parcel delivery, courier, or U.S. Parcel Post
Parcel delivery, courier, or U.S. Parcel Post
Parcel delivery, courier, or U.S. Parcel Post
Other mode
Other mode
Other mode
Other mode
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
 
Data Items Requested for Each Reported Shipment
199319972002200720122017
Total ValueTotal ValueTotal ValueTotal ValueTotal ValueTotal Value
Total WeightTotal WeightTotal WeightTotal WeightTotal WeightTotal Weight
Commodity code (STCC) and descriptionCommodity code (SCTG) and descriptionCommodity code (SCTG) and descriptionCommodity code (SCTG) and descriptionCommodity code (SCTG) and descriptionCommodity code (SCTG) and description
All known modes of transportation (including export mode if applicable)All known modes of transportation (including export mode if applicable)All known modes of transportation (including export mode if applicable)All known modes of transportation (including export mode if applicable)All known modes of transportation (including export mode if applicable)All known modes of transportation (including export mode if applicable)
Single origin (assumed to be the mailing address unless the respondent provided a different physical location address)Single origin (assumed to be the mailing address unless the respondent provided a different physical location address)Single origin (assumed to be the mailing address unless the respondent provided a different physical location address)Single origin (assumed to be the mailing address unless the respondent provided a different physical location address)Single origin (asked respondent to verify shipping address and mailing address so the appropriate address was used as the shipment origin)Single origin (asked respondent to verify shipping address and mailing address so the appropriate address was used as the shipment origin)
Destination (including foreign city and country if export)Destination (including foreign city and country if export)Destination (including foreign city and country if export)Destination (including foreign city and country if export)Destination (including foreign city and country if export)Destination (including foreign city and country if export)
Containerized (Y/N)Containerized (Y/N)--------
------Intermodal (Y/N)----
--------Temperature ControlTemperature Control
Hazardous material (Y/N)United Nations (UN) or North American (NA) number for hazardous material shipmentsUnited Nations (UN) or North American (NA) number for hazardous material shipmentsUnited Nations (UN) or North American (NA) number for hazardous material shipmentsUnited Nations (UN) or North American (NA) number for hazardous material shipmentsUnited Nations (UN) or North American (NA) number for hazardous material shipments
Export (Y/N)Export (Y/N)Export (Y/N)Export (Y/N)Export (Y/N)Export (Y/N)
If export, U.S. Port of Exit (POE) If export, U.S. Port of Exit (POE)If export, U.S. Port of Exit (POE)If export, U.S. Port of Exit (POE) If export, U.S. Port of Exit (POE) If export, U.S. Port of Exit (POE) 

Back to top

Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2018
 
 

Share

www.profvest.com

t-bitbot.com

profvest.com