Truck Driver News - Trucking Employment Rises Despite Warehouse Sector Challenge

Trucking Employment Rises Despite Warehouse Sector Challenge

In the ever-evolving world of logistics and transportation, trucking has become a focal point for many job seekers and industry professionals. The latest news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals some intriguing trends in the trucking industry. While the road to recovery may be long, there are promising signs for those interested in pursuing a career in trucking.

Trucking employment has been on a steady rise over the past few months. In December, we saw a modest gain in trucking jobs, with 3,300 positions added to the workforce. This positive trend is particularly encouraging, considering the setbacks caused by the freight recession and the Yellow Corp.’s business closure in 2023.

The total number of seasonally adjusted trucking jobs reached 1,586,300 in December. What’s even more noteworthy is the upward adjustments made to the figures for November and October, resulting in December’s job count being 5,700 positions higher than the “final” figure for October. It’s essential to understand that the October number is considered final until the BLS releases its revised figures in February. The BLS has indicated that its model for 2023 may have overstated the number of trucking jobs last year.

Despite these adjustments, not seasonally adjusted trucking jobs decreased to 1,588,400 positions from 1,592,900. While economists tend to focus on seasonally adjusted data, many agree that not seasonally adjusted data should not be disregarded when observing larger trends. Since October, not seasonally adjusted jobs have seen a decline of 3,500 in the trucking sector.

David Spencer, the Vice President of Market Intelligence at Arrive Logistics, pointed out the divergence between the seasonal and not seasonal numbers, suggesting that this indicates that jobs were down in December but less so than typical for that time of year. This data aligns with the broader trend seen in other trucking indicators, showcasing that despite a reduced rate environment, capacity and overall employment are decreasing at a slower pace compared to previous market cycles.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that there’s still a substantial gap to bridge to reach the high level of January 2023, which saw 1,611,400 seasonally adjusted trucking jobs. Since then, a combination of a weak freight market and the Yellow Corp.’s closure has led to job losses. August 2023 saw the most significant loss, with 30,700 jobs reported lost, coinciding with Yellow’s business shutdown. Still, the three monthly increases in the last four months, along with a relatively minor loss in October, mean that December ended with 1,586,300 jobs, surpassing the August low by 16,100 positions in the trucking industry.

Mazen Danaf, Uber Freight‘s economist, delved into specific sector numbers that lag the broader report by a month. He noted that the job growth in November primarily came from localized trucking, rather than long-distance truckload employment, which hit its lowest level since September 2022. This trend is closely correlated with over-the-road (OTR) rates, reflecting the overall state of the trucking industry.

Additionally, the data revealed no change in less-than-truckload (LTL) employment, suggesting that the oversupplied LTL sector did not absorb Yellow’s former employees. While these insights may raise questions about the job market’s future direction, they also offer a glimpse into the complexity of the trucking industry’s dynamics.

While the trucking sector shows signs of recovery, the same cannot be said for the warehouse industry. Seasonally adjusted employment in the warehouse sector has declined in 16 of the last 17 months, with the only exception being a month of stagnation. In the latest report, warehouse jobs decreased by 4,900, marking the fourth smallest monthly decline in 2023. However, the overall result is significant, with warehouse sector jobs in December 2022 standing at 1,933,400 jobs and dropping to 1,851,200 jobs a year later, a decline of 82,200 positions.

The peak for warehouse employment was in June 2022, with 1,960,300 jobs. Since then, the sector has experienced a significant loss of 109,100 positions in warehousing.

In other highlights from the report, seasonally adjusted rail employment saw a slight increase of 500 jobs. While rail jobs had been on the decline or stagnant for several years, the end of 2022 witnessed a significant rise, with 2,600 jobs added over the last five months of the year. Although this trend didn’t persist into 2023, the increase brought rail employment to its highest level since the pandemic. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that it still has a long way to go to reach the 209,800 jobs seen in April 2015, a recent peak in the rail industry.

Finally, average hourly earnings in trucking dropped by 20 cents an hour to $30.51. Mazen Danaf’s analysis of sector data for November revealed a 0.5% decrease in wages within the long-distance truckload sector. This decrease is attributed to carriers’ reduced willingness to hire and retain drivers, likely influenced by various factors impacting the trucking industry.

In conclusion, while the trucking industry faces its unique set of challenges, the recent trends in trucking employment are encouraging. The sector has shown resilience and is on a slow path to recovery, even though it has not yet fully recovered to the high levels seen in January 2023. On the other hand, the warehouse sector continues to struggle with job losses, reflecting the evolving dynamics of the logistics and transportation industry.

As those interested in pursuing a career in trucking navigate these changes, staying informed about the latest trends and data is essential for making informed decisions about their careers and future prospects. The road ahead may be long, but with careful observation and adaptability, individuals looking to enter the industry can play a vital role in the transportation of goods across the nation while contributing to the positive trends in trucking employment.

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