When it comes to the monthly job totals for the trucking industry, the question for the last six months has not been whether the number goes up or down, but by how much it goes up. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has updated its numbers at the start of November, showing preliminary numbers for October and solid numbers for August. The rise for each month is not a surprise, but the extent to which they rose surely is a welcome one.
The BLS releases two counts each month, the quick and dirty number for the month prior, and the slow but accurate data for three months ago.
August 2020’s job count for all occupations within the industry (not just those behind the wheel, but other jobs such as dispatchers) totaled 1,449,500. This is just shy of a 10,000 increase for the month, hiring at over 300 people per day. It was also the amount they predicted for August in September.
For October 2020, the BLS has provided a preliminary number of 1,463,700 jobs, which is an increase from the preliminary count of September by 9,600 jobs.
Generally speaking, the preliminary results can be off from one to three percent, highlighted by the fact that the numbers first said that the trucking industry lost jobs in May but wound up gaining by 1,800 instead. For more accurate totals we will have to wait, but the preliminary numbers generally tend to be close enough unless the change is estimated to be around zero, where the margin of error can be the difference between gaining jobs and losing them.
Before the coronavirus pandemic caused the trucking industry to shed jobs, the BLS count said there were 1,527,300 trucking jobs in February. At the current rate we are climbing it will take eight more months to reach back at that level, or around June 2021.
However, with news of a coronavirus vaccine on the way, reaching pre-pandemic job numbers may come sooner than anyone would otherwise think. Until that time comes, remember to keep on trucking, and using gloves at the diesel pump.