The Trucking Industry Sees Increases in Jobs While Payroll Gains Slow
In early March 2017, the trucking industry added 4,700 jobs while overall payrolls increased by only 98,000, slowing to a 2.7 percent year-over-year pace, according to the Department of Labor.
The transportation and warehousing sectors, which include the trucking industry, also added 3,500 positions while the transit and ground passenger transportation sector lost 2,300 positions. Other sectors that exhibited job growth were construction and manufacturing, which saw 6,000 and 11,000 jobs added in March, respectively.
It was also reported that the unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent, “which was the lowest level since May 2007, signifying that the labor market is returning to a more sustainable pace of progress”. While the drop in unemployment was positive news, it came as a surprise to many in the industry, according to Bloomberg News, as analysts had approximated it would remain constant at 4.7 percent.
Although Fed officials view the economy as “operating at or near maximum employment,” officials remain divided “over the extent of slack that remains in the labor market”, according to their March meeting minutes, Bloomberg reported.
While wage gains did slow to a 2.7 percent year-over-year pace, industry experts did not show concern as Amherst Pierpont’s Stanley attributed some of the weakness in payrolls to weather. The payroll gains from March compare with last year’s average of 187,000 a month, which was a pace that analysts had expected to decrease to 181,000 this year. Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities, told Bloomberg, “Even if payrolls are slowing down, I’m not sure that that means the labor market is weakening. To the extent that it is slowing down or going to slow down, it’s probably more a function of tight supply than weakening demand.”