According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released last week, the for-hire segment of the trucking industry added 5,600 jobs in February, as part of an overall increase in transportation warehousing sector employment, which increased jobs by 15.400 last month.
Over, BLS reported that the U.S. economy added 313,000 non-farm job additions last month – the most since October 2015 – while the unemployment rate held steady for the fifth straight month yet there are doubts as to whether this strength in hiring will last through springtime, especially as a recent survey indicates hiring activity among small businesses in the U.S. is leveling off – and in the for-hire TL sector, especially, most trucking operators are small businesses.
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“According to the BLS, for-hire trucking added more jobs in Jan and Feb than all of 2017,” noted Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations (ATA). “Considering the driver shortage, that remarkable. Let’s see if they revise those numbers down next month.”
On top of that, the CBIZ Small Business Employment Index (SBEI), which tracks hiring trends among thousands of companies that employ 300 or fewer employees across the U.S., reported a month-over-month decrease in hiring activity of 0.2% in February, which followed a decrease in hiring of 3.14% in January.
“Historically, February is a quiet month in terms of small business hiring, and today’s reading falls in line with this trend,” says Philip Noftsinger, CBIZ’s president, in a statement. “At this point in the year, holiday season hiring volatility has mellowed, and employers have not yet begun hiring for the warmer months ahead. But as temperatures rise across the U.S., we expect hiring among small businesses to do the same.”
Additional takeaways from the February SBEI include:
• February’s snapshot: Compared to the January reading of the SBEI, 24% of companies in the index increased their employee count, 51% did not change their staff totals and 25% decreased headcounts. Typically, the February reading in the SBEI comes in flat, and this month’s reading is in line with expectations.
• Industries at a glance: Industries which grew their employee totals include transportation and manufacturing, while construction witnessed a decline in headcount.
• Geographical hiring: While small business hiring in the central region of the U.S. declined by 0.51%, the rest of the country experienced hiring growths, with the southeast, west and northeast regions increasing hires by 0.16%, 0.27% and 0.28%, respectively.
• What’s next?Hiring among small businesses tends to pick up as the weather gets warmer. However, as potential tariffs and uncertainty surrounding future Federal Reserve actions remain in the news, small business owners may wait for clarity around policy decisions that could impact their revenues.