Trucking sheds 6,900 jobs in March

Payroll employment in for-hire trucking fell in March by the largest number of jobs in four years, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Trucking companies reduced their payrolls by 6,900 jobs month to month on a seasonally adjusted basis — the most since April 2009. Trucking employment had risen for five straight months, and March represents only the fourth month-to-month decline since the recent bottom in March 2010.

Meanwhile, the overall economy posted disappointing numbers, adding just 88,000 nonfarm jobs — the smallest month-to-month increase since June 2012, according to the preliminary BLS figures. The national unemployment rate dipped to 7.6% — the lowest since December 2008. Among broad job categories, jobs in retail took the biggest hit, falling by 24,100 month to month. Job losses in clothing and building materials and garden supplies account for all of the net retail reduction. Manufacturing employment slid by 3,000 jobs, but construction employment continued its rebound, adding 18,000 jobs. Otherwise, March’s job gains came entirely from the services sector.

Trucking payroll employment in March totaled 1.373 million jobs — up 34,500 jobs, or 2.6%, from March 2012. Trucking employment is up by 139,100 jobs, or 11.3%, from the bottom in March 2010, but it remains 80,300 jobs, or 5.5%, below the peak in January 2007.

The BLS numbers for trucking 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 reflect the number of employees paid during a specified payroll period during the month. Due to high turnover rates, the BLS estimates may overstate the number of job positions due to the methodology used in the agency’s Current Employment Survey.