Trucking employment rose 2.7 percent in November from a year ago but was almost flat from October, rising only 0.3 percent despite high demand for truck drivers, according to federal statistics.
The national unemployment rate dropped from 9 percent to 8.6 percent in November as non-farm employers added 120,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of unemployed persons dropped by more than 500,000 to 13.3 million, the BLS said.
The more than 110,000 for-hire trucking companies tracked by the Labor Department agency added 3,600 jobs from the previous month, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted data, compared with 2,600 jobs in October.
That’s still a 39 percent increase in the number of trucking jobs created by the carriers the BLS tracks. Those companies employ almost 1.3 million workers. Total employment at trucking operations of all types is estimated to be much higher.
The trend in trucking payroll numbers reflect an industry that spent 2011 slowly rebuilding a work force decimated during the recession. Trucking employment dropped 15 percent from its January 2007 peak through March 2010.
Since March 2010, trucking’s payroll has risen 4.5 percent, according to the BLS data. The agency’s for-hire carrier group added 33,800 jobs over the last 12 months. Trucking employers have expanded their work force 2.7 percent since January.
Trucking companies have added jobs each month since August, though the number of jobs created this fall is still far below those added in the first and second quarters. The BLS carriers added 27,000 jobs in the first six months of 2011.
The slower growth rate in recent months likely reflects concern about the economy, reluctance to expand trucking capacity and difficulty recruiting truck drivers.