Trucking job growth highest in 20 years
The U.S. economy added 192,000 nonfarm jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis during February – 11,200 of which came from for-hire trucking companies, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. If the numbers hold, the increase in trucking jobs would be the largest one-month surge since December 1990. However, BLS revised January estimates for payroll employment in truck transportation downward by 4,300.
Payroll employment at for-hire trucking companies was 38,300 jobs – 3.1 percent – higher than in February 2010, according to the preliminary figures. Since the beginning of March 2010 when the slump in trucking jobs hit bottom, trucking companies have added 39,000 jobs, according to BLS estimates.
Total employment in trucking in February was more than 1.266 million – down 187,000, or 12.9 percent, from peak trucking employment in January 2007. The BLS numbers reflect all payroll employment in for-hire trucking, but they don’t include trucking-related jobs in other industries, such as a truck driver for a private fleet. Nor do the numbers reflect the total amount of hiring since they only include new jobs, not replacements for existing positions.
Figures for trucking do not include the express delivery companies, which fall under the category of “couriers and messenger” in BLS data. According to preliminary numbers, that was the only segment of transportation that lost jobs, likely reflecting the final terminations of temporary jobs added to handle holiday season demand. Employment by couriers and messengers was down by only 1,400 jobs, however.
Despite the strong growth in jobs throughout the economy, the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.9 percent as the number of people seeking employment rose at about the same level as the number of new jobs added.
Manufacturing index at highest level since May 2004
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in February for the 19th consecutive month, according to the Institute of Supply Management’s monthly composite index known as the PMI. The PMI registered 61.4 percent, an increase of 0.6 percentage point when compared to January’s reading and the highest PMI reading since May 2004 when the index also registered 61.4 percent. A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is expanding; below 50 percent indicates that it is contracting.
Especially encouraging for trucking is the fact that the new orders and production indexes – both components of PMI – are outpacing the PMI, while inventories contracted. The growth in new orders and production is driven by strength in exports in particular, says Norbert Ore, chair of ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. n
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