Revised figures show fewer trucking job losses

The trucking industry shed nearly 15,000 jobs – or 1.1 percent of the total – on a seasonally adjusted basis in March, according to preliminary estimates released today, April 3, by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Seasonally adjusted employment is down 8.4 percent since March 2008.

Perhaps more interesting and significant than the March numbers, however, is the agency’s revision of its January and February employment estimates to show a far smaller job loss for trucking than BLS had reported a month ago.

According to the revised estimates, seasonally adjusted payroll employment for truck transportation dropped 1.3 percent and 1 percent in January and February, respectively, from the month before. While still among the greatest monthly declines on record, those drops are much smaller than the 1.8 percent and 2.5 percent falls based on the preliminary numbers reported in March.

Based on the latest adjusted numbers, the trucking industry has lost about 45,000 jobs, or 3.4 percent, since the end of 2008. By contrast, the March jobs report showed a decline of 58,000 jobs, or 4.3 percent, in January and February alone.

On an unadjusted basis, the 0.5 percent drop in March was the smallest since the 0.4 percent increase posted in August. Most observers, however, focus on seasonally adjusted numbers as more representative of economic trends given that the unadjusted numbers often reflect sharp fluctuations due to weather, holidays and so on.