Transportation job growth slows down in May

June 11, 2019

Tyson Fisher


The transportation job situation in May was another one on the decline, marking the third monthly loss for the year.

The transport sector lost 200 jobs with significant losses in only three of 10 subsectors. Trucking jobs were up, although just slightly. Although April’s preliminary numbers showed a decline in trucking jobs, updated numbers reveal a slight uptick of 100 jobs.

The truck transportation subsector experienced a modest gain of 300 jobs in May after the industry gained 100 jobs in April but lost 500 in March. March marked the first monthly decrease since last April, when trucking lost 5,000 jobs. Numbers for May and April are preliminary.

In related news, the U.S. Census Bureau announced on June 6 that the number of trucks drivers is at an all-time high. Of the more than 3.5 million truck drivers, approximately 1.5 million work for the 124,320 employer businesses ranging from one to four employees to 100 or more. Another 587,000 are self-employed, making up nearly 30% of the industry. Another 32% work for smaller firms that have fewer than 50 employees.

Transit/ground passenger transport experienced the largest decrease of nearly 3,000 fewer jobs, followed by scenic/sightseeing transport with a loss of nearly 2,000 jobs and rail with more than 1,000 fewer jobs. All other sectors experienced gains, with couriers and messengers leading the pack with more than 2,000 additional jobs.

Year-to-date, trucking has a net increase of 4,800 jobs. Transport jobs are at a net increase of 27,100.

In 2018, the transportation and warehousing sector had a net gain of more than 200,000 jobs, up from 2017’s net increase of more than 185,000 jobs. Compared to the previous month, there was a net increase in jobs in every month in 2018 except December. February accounted for the largest one-month increase, with more than 28,000 jobs in the sector added to the economy. For the year, the trucking subsector had a net gain of 43,800 jobs in 2018, significantly higher than 2017’s net increase of 16,100 jobs.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $24.87 for May – up sharply 17 cents from April. Earnings were up 57 cents from May 2018. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees also increased significantly by 19 cents to $22.64 from the previous month and up 88 cents year to year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $27.83, a 6-cent increase from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 3.1%.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material-moving occupations increased significantly to 4.9%, compared with 4% in April. This time last year, the unemployment rate in the transport sector was also at 4.9%. Overall unemployment remained at 3.6%, the lowest it has been in nearly half a century since hitting the milestone in April.

In December 1969, the unemployment rate reached 3.5% and got as low as 3.4% from September 1968 through May 1969. Since 1948, the lowest the unemployment rate has reached was 2.5% in May and June 1953.

The number of long-term unemployed in April was increased slightly to 1.3 million, accounting for 22.4% of the unemployed.