Trucking jobs continue growth streak in December

January 8, 2021

Tyson Fisher


Trucking, and transportation in general, continues the grind to make up significant job losses from the pandemic, according to another positive employment report in December.

The transport sector gained nearly 47,000 jobs in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This marks the seventh consecutive monthly increase after four consecutive decreases, including a historic monthly drop in April.

Trucking jobs are also on the rise, with a gain of more than 7,000 after an increase of nearly 12,000 trucking jobs in November. This marks the eighth consecutive monthly increase in trucking jobs and the 10th monthly increase in 2020.

April’s trucking job loss was the largest since the bureau began tracking the subsector in 1990. At a distant second, nearly 50,000 trucking jobs were eliminated in April 1994. That was likely the result of about 80,000 Teamsters going on strike after negotiations with Truck Management Inc. failed.

Employment numbers for December and November are preliminary.

Couriers/messengers employment experienced the largest increase with more than 37,000 additional jobs in the economy. Coming in second was warehousing/storage transport (8,200), followed by trucking. Three subsectors experienced a monthly decrease in employment. Transit/ground passenger transport saw a significant loss with nearly 9,000 fewer jobs in December. Scenic/sightseeing and water transport both experienced a decrease of about 1,000 each.

The trucking subsector had a net gain of more than 4,000 jobs last year, a far cry from the nearly 55,000 job increase in 2018. However, the employment situation last year is better than 2016’s loss of 4,000 jobs.

With 2020 numbers still preliminary, trucking employment was down 42,100 jobs for the year.

The transportation sector had a net gain of more than 118,000 jobs in 2019. Last year was the slowest year for growth since 2013, when transportation employment increased by only 77,500 for the year.

Transportation jobs went down 67,100 for the year. 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 $25.64 for December – a 10-cent increase from the previous month. Earnings were up by 72 cents from December 2019.

Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory jobs rose by 9 cents to $22.95 from the previous month, and increased by 45 cents year to year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $29.81, a 23-cent increase from the previous month.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material-moving occupations went down to 8.8% compared to November’s rate of 9.3%. At this time last year, the unemployment rate in the transport sector was sitting at 4.2%.

Overall unemployment remained stagnant at 6.7%, after the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December. This ends a seven-month streak of a falling unemployment rate after hitting a record high of nearly 15% in April. The jobless rate is still up 3.5 percentage points from February, just before the implementation of stay-at-home orders. However, unemployment has fallen 8 percentage points since April. LL

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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.