The trucking industry increased hiring 3.7 percent year-over-year in February, a slower pace than in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Trucking employers increased hiring 4.1 percent in January from a year ago, and 3.7 percent year-over-year in December, according to seasonally adjusted data.
The increase in trucking employment comes as overall non-farm employment rose by 227,000 jobs in February, a 1.6 percent year-over-year increase.
The jobless rate remained constant at 8.3 percent in February, with about 12.8 million persons unemployed, the Labor Department agency said Friday.
Overall non-farm payroll rose 0.2 percent in February from the previous month, to 132.7 million, according to the BLS employment situation summary.
The trend in the BLS payroll numbers reflects a trucking industry that spent 2011 trying to rebuild a work force decimated during the recession.
Truck drivers, in particular, have been difficult to hire, according to motor carriers. That puts a limit on how quickly carriers can add capacity as demand rises.
Companies such as Celadon Trucking are acquiring other carriers partly to find and hire more qualified truck drivers as they try to grow their business.
Trucking employment dropped 15 percent from its January 2007 peak through March 2010. Since then, the trucking payroll has climbed 7.9 percent.
The more than 100,000 for-hire trucking operators tracked by the BLS added more than 47,000 jobs over the past year, as demand for trucking service increased.
The actual number of motor carriers in the U.S. is much higher, but the BLS in its survey tracks a statistically significant portion of the for-hire trucking industry.
Trucking employers added more than 10,000 jobs in February from the previous month, according to the BLS, compared to 12,000 in the same period a year ago.
In the last six months of 2011, trucking employment increased 3.7 percent on average, compared with a 4.1 percent increase in the first half of the year.
From January to February, trucking’s payroll rose 0.8 percent, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary employment data released by the BLS Friday.
That was an increase from the 0.2 percent sequential monthly rate in January, the 0.5 percent increase in December, and an 0.3 percent increase in November.