The seven largest freight railroads added a combined 1,198 workers to their U.S. payrolls from mid-January to mid-February, the Surface Transportation Board said, for the first increase since November.
That left the U.S. operations of the Class I carriers with 154,502 workers as of the first payroll in February, the STB said, based on reports from those railroads. That was the second-strongest workforce total since railroads began hiring again after the 2008-09 recession, topped only by November's 155,042.
The declines in December and January were the first back-to-back monthly workforce reductions by the top seven railroads since the start of 2010, but came at a time when rail traffic normally subsides from the autumn peak. A renewed expansion of payrolls from mid-January to mid-February coincides with traffic starting to increase again from the winter lows.
Among the major railroads, Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway and Union Pacific Railroad made only slight changes to their U.S. operations' worker totals in the latest month.
The industry's job gains were mainly driven by BNSF Railway, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway.
Train and engine crews, the largest single job category, showed the most growth in February with a 1.41 percent gain from mid-January, followed by a 1.4 percent increase for the much smaller category of professional and administration staff. Railroads increased track and facility maintenance crews, but trimmed their non-train transportation staff.
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