The seven largest freight railroads added 1,818 workers to their U.S. payrolls from mid-May to mid-June, the largest increase this year.
In reports compiled by the Surface Transportation Board, all seven Class I carriers said they increased their workforce in that period, bringing the total to 159,340.
That is the highest Class I U.S. employment since January 2009, a time when rail payrolls were shrinking as the recession worsened.
The latest monthly reporting period was when both carload and intermodal traffic was rising again after a spring slump. However, traffic has slipped again in both categories since mid-June, and some railroad executives say they will react to curb costs if volume does not rebound as expected.
The STB takes employment reports from carriers for their U.S. operations as of the first payroll of each month, rather than for the complete calendar month.
The June increase follows a gain of 745 workers in May, 935 in April, 1,340 in March and 1,198 in February. January’s total declined by 1,096 from mid-December.
With the latest increase, the payroll totals per company were as follows:
— Union Pacific Railroad, 48,624
— BNSF Railway, 39,749
— Norfolk Southern Railway, 29,890
— CSX Transportation, 28,150
— Canadian National, U.S. workers, 6,126
— Canadian Pacific (Soo Line), U.S. payroll, 3,977
— Kansas City Southern, U.S. payroll, 2,824