The seven largest railroads added a combined 1,191 workers to their U.S. payrolls from mid-July to mid-August, rebounding from a mild decline in the prior month as freight traffic picked up from an early summer slowdown.
That pushed Class I railroad employment on U.S. operations to 160,107 as of the first payroll in August, a new high for the recovery that began in mid-2009 and the highest level since December 2008. July had seen the carriers trim a net 424 workers, in the first reduction since carriers cut jobs last winter in line with normal seasonal trends.
But railroads began showing stronger traffic in late July and early August. The latest employment gain is in line with other signals showing rail activity strengthening in August, including that railcar owners pulled more idled cars out of storage as demand warmed up.
The Surface Transportation Board report on rail employment shows that all major carriers except Union Pacific Railroad added jobs from mid-July. UP is by far the largest rail employer with a headcount of 48,706 at mid-August, which was down by 42 from a month earlier.
Among the others, BNSF Railway added about 706 workers in the latest month, CSX Transportation added 297 300 and Norfolk Southern Railway’s total increased by 105.
The smaller Class I employers each added dozens of workers to their U.S. networks. Canadian National Railway has the largest U.S. workforce of that group, followed by Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern.
As normal when traffic is expanding, Class I carriers added the most workers last month to their train and engine crews, followed by track maintenance employees. They slightly trimmed administrative staff.