Trucking jobs at a net loss for the year; first time since 2016

October 4, 2019

Tyson Fisher


Jobs in the transportation sector in September rebounded from a decrease in August, which can be attributed to a significant spike in employment for the transit/ground passenger transportation subsector. However, numbers for trucking were not so positive.

The transport sector gained nearly 16,000 jobs, with gains in half of the 10 subsectors. Four subsectors experienced losses, including trucking. Rail transport employment did not budge.

The truck transportation subsector experienced a loss of 4,200 jobs in September after the industry lost 5,100 jobs in August and 300 in July. The last time trucking jobs decreased for three consecutive months was in 2016 during a six-month streak from February through July.

Year-to-date, trucking has a net loss of 400 jobs. This time last year, trucking jobs were up nearly more than 33,000 for the year.

The last time trucking jobs were at a net loss this late into the year was in 2016 when jobs were down by nearly 11,000.

Transport jobs are at a net increase of 63,500.

Numbers for September and August are preliminary.

Transit/ground passenger transport experienced the largest increase with 10,500 more jobs added to the economy, followed by couriers/messengers (3,600 jobs) and warehousing/storage (3,400 jobs). For the second consecutive month, trucking experienced the largest decrease, losing more than 4,000 jobs.

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 $25.06 for September – up 8 cents from August. Earnings were up 68 cents from September 2018.

Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees also increased, with wages a penny higher to $22.61 from the previous month and up 68 cents year to year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $28.09, a one-cent decrease 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 dropped significantly to 4.4% compared with August’s rate of 5.7%. This time last year, the unemployment rate in the transport sector was a bit higher at 4.6%.

Overall unemployment dropped 0.2 percentage points to 3.5%, the lowest in half a century after reaching a similar milestone of 3.6% back in May.

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.