The Journal of Commerce For-Hire Trucking Employment Index rose nine-tenths of a percent in April, as the national unemployment average dropped to 7.5 percent.
The JOC index jumped from 94.9 to 95.8, its highest reading since September 2008. The surge was the biggest leap for trucking employment since February 2011.
The increase reflects a gain of 11,700 jobs captured in surveys of more than 110,000 less-than-truckload and truckload carriers by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That increase followed a revised loss of 6,300 jobs at trucking firms in March, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted data the agency released May 3.
For-hire trucking employment was up 3.4 percent year-over-year in April, according to the BLS data, after rising 2.6 percent in March and 3 percent in February.
Unadjusted BLS data showed for-hire trucking employment remaining relatively flat from January through March and jumping by nearly 20,000 jobs in April.
The April surge in motor carrier employment followed an 0.9 percent gain in for-hire truck tonnage in March, according to the American Trucking Associations.
That freight gain in early spring followed an 0.7 percent decline in tonnage in February, according to the ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index.
“Spring is the new fall,” U.S. Xpress President John White said last month, noting truckers have seen higher than usual demand in spring in the last four years.
The 95.8 index reading for April indicates for-hire trucking employment as measured by BLS is 4.2 percentage points below its peak in the late 2006.
The JOC index has climbed steadily since hitting its low point of 85.3 in March 2010, gaining 3.2 percentage points since April 2012 and 6.3 points since April 2012.