Trucking Scrambles to Add Jobs in March

Trucking Scrambles to Add Jobs in March

Trucking showed the strongest employment growth in March among transportation and warehousing industries tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Hiring slowed, however, after a surge in employment in February. Trucking added 1,600 jobs in March, compared with 11,000 jobs in February, the BLS said.

The BLS reported transportation employment dropped by about 1,000 jobs in March, while total non-farm payroll employment rose by 216,000.

Most of March's job gains were in service-providing industries, mining and manufacturing employment, according to the seasonally adjusted figures.

Those gains dropped the unemployment rate to 8.8 percent and the total number of unemployed persons dropped from 13.7 million to 13.5 million, the BLS said.

However, even the addition of 12,600 jobs over the past two months only boosts trucking employment 1 percent from January, to about 1,267,200 employees.

Trucking's workforce is still 12.7 percent smaller than it was in March 2007, however, a sign of deep payroll cuts before and during the recession.

Trucking companies are aggressively recruiting truck drivers as freight demand rises, with Holland, a Midwestern carrier, looking to hire 1,000 drivers.

The BLS tracks payroll numbers at about 110,000 for-hire motor carriers, far short of the total number of carriers, but still a significant portion of for-hire trucking.

Trucking employed almost 30 percent of the workers involved in transportation and warehousing last month, the largest segment, according to the BLS figures.

The warehousing and storage industry, the next largest employer in the sector, according to the BLS, lost about 2,900 jobs, falling to 625,400.

-- Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com.