Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (.pdf) that firms added 157,000 employees to their payrolls during January. As in December, the Construction and Manufacturing sectors continued to expand. But, for-hire trucking employment also grew, increasing by 5000 employees since December.
In another article, I examined transitions from and to for-hire employment in trucking. If manufacturing and construction are close substitutes for trucking, should all three of these occupations be swelling their payrolls simultaneously – especially when the overall unemployment rate remains at 7.9 percent?
Below, I update my previous analysis to incorporate time, showing the extent of employment transitions to and from trucking during each year over the last decade. Specifically, I use the previously discussed CPS-MORG employment transitions to show the ratio of new truckers to former truckers by year, rather than combined into a single measure for each sector. I present this ratio for three of trucking’s most related sectors: construction, trade (wholesale or retail), and manufacturing.
In the figure, a value of zero for a sector indicates that there is an equal flow of workers moving from that sector to employment in trucking as there is exiting for-hire trucking to that sector. A value of 0.5 indicates that there are three new truckers coming from that sector for every two former truckers departing for that sector.
Construction activity sharply declined during the recession, so it is not surprising to see an influx of construction workers into trucking towards the end of the decade. However, now that the construction sector is rapidly expanding again (.pdf), this trend could easily reverse.
The relative shift of truckers to manufacturing during recent years is also concerning, and as manufacturing activity continues to improve, this pattern is likely to continue.
Retail and wholesale trade appear to be the most balanced of the sectors, in terms of transitions to and from trucking. At this time, there is little reason to anticipate this pattern changing substantially.
About the author
Jeremy West is the Internet Truckstop research economist for the weekly Trans4Cast. Jeremy examines the broader economic picture and reports how the current economic headlines relate to the trucking industry. He holds a bachelor of science in Economics, with minor degrees in Business and Creative Studies, from Texas A&M University, where he is currently completing a doctorate in Economics. His research focuses on empirical analysis of topics in industrial organization, particularly those affecting the transportation sector. In addition to his academic training, Jeremy held several previous positions in corporate financial planning and economic forecasting. Jeremy enjoys the opportunity to offer highlights and analysis of the trucking industry.