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January 2021: Trucking Slow Season Begins

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released the preliminary job numbers in the trucking industry for January 2021. The results are slightly surprising, ending an eight month streak of job growth in the industry, the preliminary numbers suggest the first month of job losses since the dog days of the coronavirus pandemic back in April.

A Pattern Emerges

The BLS pins the January 2021 trucking industry employee count at 1,475,400. This is a decrease of 2,900 from December’s preliminaries.

Despite it being the start of the slow season for the trucking industry, January tends to have a few thousand more drivers each year than its prior month. The last time January had a decrease in jobs was in 2017.

Could it be that the change of presidential power in the United States results in people leaving the trucking industry? Correlation is not causation, but it is certainly an interesting prospect, especially when considering January 2013 having job growth when Obama started his second term rather than the office of the presidency changing hands.

November’s Growth Confirmed

The same time preliminaries come out is the time a more accurate number for two months prior emerges. November 2020 was estimated to have 1,474,400 trucking jobs with an increase of 12,000 in September.

While the official number for November was lower at 1,472,800 total jobs in the industry, the growth rate was as predicted at around 12,000, namely because the BLS had overstated October’s preliminaries as well.

This confirms November as the largest jump in trucking jobs in roughly a decade.


The 2,900 job loss estimated for January is within the margin of error for what the BLS gives for preliminaries, but not by much. While it is possible for the trucking industry to have gained jobs in January, it is unlikely and small if it did.

We will have to wait until the first week of April to truly get a read on what January’s job count was. We will keep you posted.

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