Employment in the U.S is getting better, and some experts feel the trucking industry is actually starting to catch up.
In the past few years, hiring in the U.S. has been steadily on the rise. The nation added more than 40,000 jobs in the past 12 months, with 151,800 new jobs created since March 2010—when the country began to climb out of the economic hole of the 2008 Great Recession.
In May 2013, American employers added 175,000 jobs—not necessarily robust growth, but strong nonetheless.
However, for the trucking industry, the most recent labor numbers were a little less rosy. In the same month, for-hire truck driver jobs actually dropped by 700. Although small, this number represents a stark contrast, particularly when compared to the 12,500 jobs created in April.
Job Growth Steady, If Not Energetic
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy added 12,000 fewer jobs in April and March. An average of 155,000 new jobs added in the past three months, below the average of 237,000 new hiring from November through February.
Last week, the labor Department announced a slight increase in unemployment in April, to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent. More people are beginning to look for work. Three-quarters of new job seekers had found jobs; something many economists see as a good sign.
Employment Numbers, Stock Markets and the Fed
Stock markets varied on speculation the Fed would inhibit bond purchases for the rest of the year. Modest job gains might cause the Federal Reserve to keep the pace of its bond purchases. The Fed has promised to maintain a steady pace of bond purchases until the job market improves significantly.
Regular bond purchases help drive down interest rates, as well as rise stock prices.
Job growth has been steadfast in the first quarter of 2013, even in the face of higher taxes and spending cuts by the federal government. Many fear that continued austerity—spending cuts and poor growth worldwide—will continue to frustrate the job market.
For the transportation industry, that was the first of the bad news.
Manufacturing, Federal Employees and the Trucking Industry
To add to trucking company woes, manufacturers last month reduced their labor force by 8,000 jobs, as well as the 14,000-drop in the number of federal employees. it was the third consecutive month of cuts for both of those employment sectors. Severe government spending cuts, combined with higher Social Security taxes, could also slow progress through June to a rate of 2 percent or less annually.
A New Hope for the Transportation Industry?
On the other hand, a few trends are giving the trucking industry a glimmer of hope.
In the most recent economic numbers, the economy continued to produce constant annual rate of 2.4 percent for the first quarter of the year. However, the best news comes from consumer spending, which rose at the sharpest rate in more than two years.
Overall, trucking industry experts predict the general hiring direction as a plus—with the slight decrease in May more of a “speed bump” than a downward spiral. When taken as a whole, they see the April growth demonstrating a business sector that is trying to play catch-up with the rest of the nation, and mostly succeeding.