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Jobs report provides industry update

The trucking industry experienced positive job growth in July.
/ Industry News & Trends /

By: Phil Sneed

The U.S. Department of of Labor released its latest jobs report for the trucking industry. Overall, the trucking industry added 2,800 jobs. According to OverDrive Online, the jobs were added on a seasonally adjusted basis.

July represented the second straight month in which the industry topped employment levels not seen in nearly eight years. The recently revealed statistics are also positive news for an industry that lost 7,300 jobs in March, according to Fleet Owner. The July 2015 jobs reports indicates the industry is in better shape than at this point one year ago.

The low point of the Great Recession occurred during March 2010. Over the following five years, the trucking industry has added 225,500 jobs. The growth of the trucking industry correlates to the American economy as a whole. During the previous month, approximately 215,000 jobs were added to the national economy and unemployment remained at 5.3 percent. It should be noted that these figures may change next month due to any revisions.

"The July 2015 jobs reports indicates the trucking industry is in better shape than at this point one year ago."

To add to the good news, The Wall Street Journal reported wages rose 0.9 percent in the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis in the trucking industry. The publication said this signified trucking companies are focused on retaining drivers.

Caution is needed
Those within the industry should remain positive about the jobs report but still digest the news with some caution. The industry still faces a severe driver shortage that may worsen in the upcoming years. The total jobs added during July lagged behind the previous average jobs gains over the past year.

The ongoing driver shortage has long been a concern for the industry and figures to be prominently discussed in an upcoming survey from the American Transportation Research Institute. The industry's non-profit organization has conducted a survey sponsored by the American Trucking Association for the last 11 years. In a statement, ATRI said the intent is to gauge some of the top concerns among those within the industry.

The results are expected to be released during the ATA's Annual Management Conference and Exhibition, which will take place in October.

Factors influencing shortage
There are numerous factors contributing to the ongoing shortage. The Central Valley Business Journal cited demographics, personal reasons and regulations as contributions to the shortage. Long-haul drivers, for instance, may spend weeks away from home.

When it comes to oversight, insurance companies may not feel comfortable with trucking companies hiring drivers with little experience. Central Valley Business Journal said companies and driving schools are changing their methods so less experienced drivers feel more comfortable when they are on the road, despite their relative lack of experience.

Drivers enrolled in The Academy of Truck Driving School usually finish the required curriculum in four to six weeks. Within that timespan, drivers are enrolling in a strict curriculum to ensure they have all the training required. The program has been described as more intense.

"The industry still faces a severe driver shortage that may worsen in the upcoming years."

"When they leave our school, they are 100 percent confident that they can control the vehicle in any circumstance or any situation," the school's director, Woodrow Lucas, told the Central Valley Business Journal in an interview.

Increase in benefits package
Companies are also increasing perks for drivers. Wages are increasing, and companies are providing a $500 signing bonus in conjunction with a 401k retirement plan. Some trucking companies, especially those that don't offer a training program, have even offered to pay for driving school so drivers can gain that knowledge. Enrollment typically costs $3,000 to $6,000.

The July jobs report provided the trucking industry with good news in terms of jobs gained, but industry leaders and logistics management companies may still want to proceed with caution because of an ongoing driver shortage.