It is the same song and dance we have been doing for the past few months: the trucking industry, while having it happen later than other industries, dropped a bit from the coronavirus pandemic, and is climbing its way back up in a slow but sure manner. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released preliminary numbers for September and has solidified July’s numbers, and it is just about what you would expect if you have been following the trail for some time.
At its trough for 2020, the trucking industry hit 1,430,600 jobs in April, a number previously not seen since September 2014.
In general, the BLS gives us two different numbers. First, it gives us preliminaries, which are the quick and dirty estimations, and then revises the results as it obtains better data until they are very confident in their numbers, at which point the numbers are solidified in the records.
Preliminary numbers tend to come out around fifteen days after the month’s end. While not completely accurate, they give a good preview as to what the solidified number will be. September 2020’s preliminary job count says 1,454,400, which is almost five million higher than August’s preliminary numbers. While these data points are almost certain to change, it is very likely that September will ultimately have a higher job count than August. These numbers are comparable to June 2017, for the time being.
Solid numbers take approximately another 60 days. While these take longer to come out, the BLS is more confident in this data. July’s solid numbers came out at 1,439,800. This is comparable to November 2014.
There are no real secrets in this month’s report. The trucking industry’s job count is rising as it did every month since April, and, if the preliminary count is somewhat accurate, the change from August to September is the second-largest increase since the coronavirus pandemic started. It is beaten only by July to August, which had an estimated increase of ten million jobs.
We believe the combined factors of increased tractor sales, increased trailer sales, and increased freight rates have resulted in a higher supply of labor for the industry.
While the 2020 peak was in February right before COVID-19 became a worldwide issue, the trucking industry had its highest job count in July 2019, totaling at around 1,535,400. Will the industry ever top that number? With almost certainty, yes, but it will take some time to get there. Like a powerful big rig hauling an oversized load, employment in the trucking industry is moving slowly, but surely.