Transportation employment suffers worst year since recession

January 10, 2020

Tyson Fisher


How bad a year was 2019 for transport and trucking jobs?

According to the year-end numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it was the weakest annual employment growth since jobs plummeted by 275,000 during the recession in 2009.

Employment in the transportation sector in December dropped sharply, the largest monthly decrease in four years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Trucking jobs also suffered a significant loss.

The transport sector lost more than 10,000 jobs, with losses in half of the 10 subsectors. Job losses in the couriers/messengers and trucking subsectors were the major contributors to the significant decrease. This marks the largest employment loss in the sector since January 2016, when nearly 17,000 jobs were eliminated.

The trucking subsector lost 3,500 jobs in December after losing 400 jobs in November, which was preceded by a small gain of 700 and three consecutive losses. The last time trucking jobs decreased for three consecutive months was in 2016 during a six-month streak from February through July. In 2019, trucking experienced job losses in six months, including five of the last six months.

For the year, the trucking subsector lost more than 2,000 jobs. August and September saw the biggest monthly employment losses at 4,000 each. More than 4,000 jobs were added in January, the largest increase in 2019. The last time there was an annual decrease in trucking jobs was in 2016, with nearly 5,000 jobs gone. In 2018, trucking gained more than 44,000 jobs.

In 2018, trucking gained more than 44,000 jobs.

For the transportation and warehousing sector, more than 57,000 jobs were added to the economy.

However, this is the weakest annual employment growth since jobs plummeted by 275,000 during the recession in 2009.

In 2018, the sector saw a 216,000 spike in jobs. In 2019, the best month in employment was January’s increase of more than 30,000 jobs. The worst month was the latest job loss in December.

Couriers/messengers experienced the largest decrease in December with more than 9,000 jobs removed from the economy, followed by trucking and warehousing/storage (2,200). Transit/ground passenger transportation experienced the largest increase with an additional 2,700 jobs.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $25.06 for December – a 6-cent increase from November’s employment situation. Earnings were up 57 cents from December 2018.

Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory jobs increased by 3 cents to $22.50 from the previous month and up 37 cents year to year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $28.32, a 3-cent increase from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2.9%.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material-moving occupations went down to 4.2% compared with November’s rate of 4.4%. This time last year, the unemployment rate in the transport sector was higher at 4.4%. Overall unemployment remained stagnant at 3.5%.