Employment in trucking ends eight-month growth streak in January
February 5, 2021
After eight consecutive months of growth, trucking jobs were down in January, with transport employment in general down for the month as well.
The transport sector lost nearly 28,000 jobs in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This marks the second consecutive monthly decrease after six consecutive increases. December’s preliminary numbers changed drastically since last month. Initially, BLS reported a job increase of nearly 47,000. However, that number has been adjusted to reflect a 24,000-job loss in December.
Trucking employment fell with nearly 3,000 fewer jobs after an increase of 5,500 in December. This is the first monthly loss after eight straight increases. Historically, trucking employment increases in January. In the last 10 years, only one other year experienced a trucking job decrease in January, which was a loss of nearly 5,000 in 2017.
Employment numbers for January and December are preliminary.
Warehousing/storage employment experienced the largest decrease with more than 17,000 fewer jobs in the economy. Coming in second was couriers/messengers transport (minus 13,700), followed by support activities for transportation (minus 5,300). Two subsectors saw some growth in January. Air transport pared the net loss by adding nearly 15,000 jobs. Scenic/sightseeing transport experienced an increase of 300 jobs. Rail transport saw no change compared to December.
The trucking subsector had a net gain of more than 4,000 jobs in 2019, a far cry from the nearly 55,000-job increase in 2018. However, the employment situation in 2019 is better than 2016’s loss of 4,000 jobs.
With 2020 numbers still preliminary, trucking employment was down 43,100 jobs for the year.
The transportation sector had a net gain of more than 118,000 jobs in 2019. That was the slowest year for growth since 2013, when transportation employment increased by only 77,500 for the year.
Transportation jobs went down 73,800 in 2020. This is an improvement from the more than 400,000 workers lost year to date in July. In April alone, the sector lost nearly 560,000 workers.
Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $25.66 for January – a 6-cent decrease from the previous month. Earnings were up by 75 cents from January 2020. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory jobs was unchanged at $23.09, and increased by 57 cents year to year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $29.96, a 6-cent increase from the previous month.
According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material-moving occupations went up to 9.1% compared to December’s rate of 8.8%. At this time last year, the unemployment rate in the transport sector was sitting at 4.6%.
Overall unemployment fell slightly from 6.7% to 6.3%, after the economy gained 49,000 jobs in January. The jobless rate is still up 2.8 percentage points from February, just before the implementation of stay-at-home orders. However, unemployment has fallen by more than 8 percentage points since April. LL