Employment in trucking rebounds after modest decrease in February

April 5, 2021

Tyson Fisher


Trucking employment rebounded from a minor setback in February with a few thousand jobs added in the subsector in March.

Trucking employment went up by more than 3,000 jobs after losing about 800 in February. Preliminary numbers showed a job loss of 4,000 in February. However, revised data puts that number below 1,000. Still, February broke a nine-month streak of trucking jobs increases.

Employment numbers for March and February are preliminary.

The trucking subsector had a net loss of 42,500 jobs in 2020. This is far from the largest annual decrease. In 2009, more than 100,000 trucking jobs were lost, preceded by employment being down by 76,500 jobs in 2008 during the Great Recession. In 2001, another recession year, trucking jobs fell by more than 49,000.

Compared to the end of 2020, trucking employment is up nearly 4,000 jobs. This time last year, there was a decrease of more than 5,000 jobs.

The transport sector had a significant gain of 47,500 jobs in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Revised numbers show that February was far better than initially reported. Instead of a gain of more than 4,000 jobs, employment in the transport sector increased by 35,500.

All but two of the transportation subsectors experienced employment gains, with couriers/messengers gaining the most with nearly 17,000 additional jobs, followed by transit/ground passenger transport with nearly 13,000 more jobs. Both warehousing/storage and rail each experienced a loss of less than 1,000 jobs.

The transportation sector experienced a job loss of nearly 93,000 last year. Like trucking employment, the transportation sector as a whole had worse years in 2009 (minus 273,800), 2008 (minus 153,800) and 2001 (minus 235,700). Year to date, the transport sector is up nearly 89,000 jobs, compared to an increase of more than 61,000 jobs last March.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $25.71 for March – a penny decrease from the previous month. Earnings were up by 65 cents from March 2020. Hourly earnings for production/nonsupervisory jobs were up 3 cents to $23.01 and increased by 52 cents year to year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $29.96, a 4-cent decrease from the previous month.

The unemployment rate for transportation and material-moving occupations went up to 9.7% compared to February’s rate of 9.5%. At this time last year, the unemployment rate in the transport sector was sitting at 7.1%.

Overall unemployment fell from 6.2% to 6%, after the economy gained 916,000 jobs in March. The jobless rate is still up 2.5 percentage points from last February, just before the implementation of stay-at-home orders. However, unemployment has fallen by 8.8 percentage points since April. LL


Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.