Trucking jobs slightly down despite industry’s COVID-19 response

April 3, 2020

Tyson Fisher

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Despite the trucking industry remaining hard at work during the COVID-19 pandemic, preliminary numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that trucking jobs were slightly down in March. The transportation sector as a whole took a bigger hit.

The transport sector lost nearly 5,000 jobs in March, despite a massive increase in warehousing and storage jobs. Many subsectors took large hits from temporary layoffs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trucking subsector experienced a loss of only 200 after gaining 1,200 jobs in February.

Trucking experienced a streak of increases from March 2018 through July 2019 before seeing a more volatile employment situation.

Numbers for February  and March are preliminary.

“Support activities for transportation” experienced the largest decrease with nearly 6,000 fewer jobs in the economy, followed by transit/ground passenger transport (minus 4,000) and rail transport (minus 2,100). Warehousing/storage employment went up by more than 8,000, the largest increase in March, followed by air transport (1,600) and pipeline transport (500), the only three subsector increases.

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. To date, trucking employment is up 1,500 jobs. Last March, trucking jobs were up by nearly 8,000.

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.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $25.11 for March – a 3-cent decrease from February. Earnings were up 50 cents from March 2019.

Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory jobs decreased significantly by 21 cents to $22.55 from the previous month but up 24 cents year to year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $28.62, an 11-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 skyrocketed to 7.1% compared with February’s rate of 5.5%. This time last year, the unemployment rate in the transport sector was even lower at 4.9%. Overall unemployment increased sharply by nearly one full percentage point, to 4.4%, with more than 700,000 jobs lost. The monthly decrease is the first after a decadelong streak of increases. COVID-19 is mostly to blame for the loss.

Tyson Fisher

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.