Trucking Adds Jobs - Unemployment Unchanged

The U.S. Labor Department reported Friday that unemployment remained at 8.3 percent for February, which is unchanged from the previous month. These numbers, though, do not concur with the latest report from Gallup showing that unemployment jumped to 9.1 percent in February.

Overall, the Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added 227,000 jobs in February, making this the three best successive months of hiring since the recession started. Hiring by trucking companies increased by 10,200 for February.

Truck driving jobs are 123,000 below the industry high set in early 2007. That’s a drop of 8.5 percent from that 2007 peak.

The additional jobs for the trucking sector represents an increase of 47,300 jobs as compared to one year ago. It’s also an additional 97,000 jobs since March 2010.

According to Gallup, unemployment increased to 9.1 percent in February from 8.6 percent in January. The increase is the largest month-to-month rise since December 2010. Gallup reported that an additional 10 percent of the work force have part-time jobs but are seeking full-time employment.

Gallup uses the same statistical model as the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the unemployment rate.

The government claims that the economy has added an average of 245,000 jobs per month over the past three months. Supporters of President Obama are touting these numbers as the best job-creating streak since early in 2010.

Associated Press said these numbers are great for the president and his re-election campaign. The bad news, though, is that Obama will walk into the election with the highest unemployment numbers of any president since the end of World War II.

The Labor Department claimed that jobs were created across the entire economy, including jobs that paid well and lower paying positions. Services, mining and manufacturing all added jobs. If these reports are accurate, it should bode well. Truck driving jobs increase when manufacturers make products and miners move coal and ore.

The labor report said that a half-million people hit the streets looking for work, and a high percentage, most, in fact, found jobs. That’s a sign of optimism in the market, the agency said, as people who had given up looking for work started knocking on employers’ doors again.

The Labor Department said that the primary reason that unemployment dropped is because many unemployed people have stopped looking for jobs. Only people seeking work are counted in the statistics as unemployed.

The readings by the Labor Department also appear to be out of sync with the latest UCLA Anderson Forecast. The Forecast uses the Pulse of Commerce Index to measure the movement of goods to U.S. manufacturers, retailers and consumers by analyzing purchases of diesel fuel by trucking companies.

Ed Learner, who heads up the Anderson Forecast, said that the better national economic indicators showing falling unemployment rates, stronger retail sales and greater industrial output don’t match up with the decrease in the trucking index.

Trucking may be lagging because housing construction is still flat, Learner said. About 17 truckloads are required to build one house. Until the housing sector picks up steam, truck driving jobs may not reach the levels seen in 2007.

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