Trucking employment increased by about 7,300 jobs in May, a 3.4 percent increase from a year ago, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday.
Trucking employment rose 0.6 percent from April, when it increased at a slower 3.1 percent year-over-year pace and rose only 0.2 percent from March.
The BLS data show for-hire trucking companies easing off the brakes it hit in March, when the trucking industry’s payroll figures fell 0.1 percent from February.
That drop represented 1,900 jobs and was the first decline in the seasonally adjusted trucking employment figures tracked by the BLS since July 2011.
Trucking’s gain was part of a 36,000-job jump across U.S. transportation and warehousing businesses in May, a 2.1 increase from a year ago.
Transportation hiring was spurred manufacturing, which added 12,000 jobs in May, expanding payroll faster than in April, when industrial production rose 1.1 percent.
Trucking has spent two years rebuilding a work force that shrank by 15 percent from its peak in January 2007 through its nadir in March 2010.
Since that month, trucking employment has climbed 8.8 percent. But it’s been a long, slow climb, especially for truckload carriers looking for long-haul drivers.
In the last six months of 2011, trucking boosted its payroll 3.7 percent year-over-year on average, creating more than 14,300 jobs, according to BLS data.
The BLS tracks a statistically significant portion of for-hire trucking’s payroll in its monthly survey, including office workers as well as truck drivers in its count.
Separate BLS occupation and wage data show the number of tractor-trailer drivers increased 2.9 percent in 2011, the first increase in driver numbers since 2008.
Trucking employers have created 20,000 jobs since January, the BLS data show, expanding their payroll 1.6 percent during the first five months of 2012.
That outpaces the national average. Total U.S. non-farm employment tracked by the BLS was up 1.4 percent in May from a year ago, and 0.4 percent from January.