The U.S. freight-related transportation industry and the warehouse sector added about 4,300 jobs in September from August, helping to push down national unemployment under 8 percent for the first time since 2009.
Employment in the sectors handling freight in September was up about 49,000 jobs from the same period in 2011, according to seasonally adjusted data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday. The national unemployment rate slipped to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent in the same period.
Total warehousing and transportation employment, which includes passenger service, added about 17,100 jobs in September from the previous month. The majority of the growth in the overall transportation industry came through the gaining of about 9,200 jobs in the transit and ground transportation sectors.
The air industry was the only freight-related transportation job that had a decrease in employment between August and September, with 2,500 jobs trimmed, according to seasonally adjusted data. Water transport employment stayed flat at 67,000, while the trucking industry gained 700 jobs, and couriers and messenger companies added 400 people to their rolls. Rail employment rose by 1,400 jobs to a workforce of about 231,400. The warehousing and storage industry saw the largest gain in employment, with the addition of about 4,300 jobs.
Despite a rebound in production last month, the manufacturing industry lost about 16,000 jobs between August and September, bringing its workforce down to 11.9 million. The construction industry, a key barometer of freight volume growth, added about 5,000 jobs, but the workforce of 5.52 million is still 5,000 people less than it was a year ago, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.