The U.S. trucking industry added nearly 10,000 jobs in April and has added about 16,000 since February, as part of a broader recovery in freight sector employment showing up in payroll surveys by the Labor Department.
Labor also said May 7 that the nation’s rail, air and water transportation industries all increased payrolls last month, as did support activities that can include logistics and maintenance services.
Warehousing and courier employment shrank some, so the department’s broad grouping of various transportation and warehouse jobs fell to 4.099 million in April from 4.106 million in March. But all four direct transport modes added to their payrolls in April.
Those readings come from Labor’s raw monthly data before adjusting for traditional seasonal norms. However, given the unusual recessionary plunge in activity the last two years, many economists say seasonal adjustments may not accurately reflect true job trends. Labor’s April data is also its preliminary read of first payroll samplings to come in, and it often revises its figures for each month several times later.
Still, the latest report shows trucking jobs growing for two months straight for the first time since May and June 2009, when freight activity began to bounce off the recession lows of that spring. Since then, however, trucking jobs mostly slid again until now.
Labor said trucking firms added 9,600 payroll jobs last month to reach 1.209 million. Revised figures for March show the sector adding 6,400 that month to just under 1.2 million. The April level is down 47,200 trucking jobs from the same month in 2009, and is down by 221,100 from April 2007, as the largest segment of freight transportation was hit especially hard by the recession.
In other groups, rail and water transport jobs also increased for the second consecutive month, while air industry jobs gained in April after a decline in March
Railroads as a group – dominated by Class I freight lines but including short line freight railroads and intercity passenger operations – added back nearly 1,000 furloughed workers in April to reach 215,600. Water transport employment that is mostly cargo related, such as barge lines that ramp up during spring, jumped 1,100 to 62,300.
Air transport, mainly passenger airlines that carry belly cargo and counting freighter operations as well, added just 300 jobs in all to 452,200. Warehouse and storage jobs declined nearly 2,000 to 637,000, but transportation support services increased payrolls by more than 3,000 to reach 537,100.
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