U.S. job growth nearly came to a halt at the seven largest freight railroads from mid-August to mid-September, a period when weekly rail traffic was running slightly ahead of 2010 levels.
The Class I carriers added a net 133 employees to their U.S. operations as of the first payroll period in September, to a combined workforce of 160,240, according to reports filed with the Surface Transportation Board.
Although freight traffic strengthened in the last half of September, the period covered by the latest Class I jobs report reflected weeks when bulk carload volume at times slipped below year-earlier levels and when intermodal was only running about 1 percent higher than in 2010.
Before the mid-September jobs report, Class I employment rose and fell in recent months. Those carriers added 1,191 workers from mid-July to mid-August after cutting 424 positions from mid-June to mid-July. Until then, the top railroads had been adding jobs steadily in 2011.
For the latest month, BNSF Railway boosted its workforce by 382 employees, but western U.S. rival Union Pacific Railroad cut 373. CSX Transportation added 153 workers and Canadian Pacific Railway added a few to its U.S. operations. Norfolk Southern Railway, Kansas City Southern and Canadian National each mildly trimmed their U.S. employment.