Higher employment in such sectors as retail sales and automotive and furniture manufacturing did not deliver jobs for trucking last month.
Trucking made few employment gains in October, keeping the Journal of Commerce For-Hire Trucking Employment Index flat month-to-month at 95.7. The index, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, rose only 1.5 percentage points year-over-year, indicating for-hire motor carriers are struggling to hire and keep truck drivers, as well as other employees.
The trucking firms tracked by the Labor Department agency increased payroll by only 400 jobs in October, after adding 1,300 employees in September. According to the seasonally adjusted BLS data, trucking employment rose 1.6 percent year-over-year last month, adding 22,000 jobs since October 2012. Total nonfarm employment rose by 204,000 jobs to 136.6 million in October. Retail businesses added 44,000 jobs, and manufacturing added 19,000 workers.
The BLS tracks employment data at more than 115,000 for-hire trucking companies employing a total of 1.4 million people.
The JOC trucking employment index shows finding truck drivers and other employees hasn’t been easy. After increasing steadily from a low of 85.3 in March 2010, the index has flattened in 2013. The index hit its five-year high mark of 95.8 in April and has stayed slightly below that reading for six months.
That level puts the for-hire trucking workforce about 5 percent, or 70,000 jobs, below its pre-recession January 2007 peak. The index fell 15.1 points through March 2010 and climbed 10.5 points through April 2013.
The JOC index uses an average employment figure for the fourth quarter of 2006 as its base, providing a means to compare current employment levels and their growth rate with pre-recession employment.