December’s employment report for the trucking sector showed industry declines in employment levels, but the trend appears to be pointing downward.

Seasonally adjusted employment in the sector in December was 1,601,500 jobs. This represents an increase of 2,100 jobs from the revised November figure of 1,599,400 jobs.

But the November figure has been revised up by 1,900 jobs since it was released a month ago. Therefore, the final result is that the December job number in the schedule is only 200 jobs higher than where the data showed the job level one month ago.

Additionally, October payrolls were revised up by 1,110 jobs to 1,598,900. The problem then is the half-full/half-empty dilemma: Driving activity in December was higher than November and October, but the last two months had less activity than originally expected.

Another reference number is unchanged data. The number showed a decline in employment, to 1,604,100, down 8,000 jobs. While economists often cite the updated data, others have cautioned that the numbers that did not perform well should not be ignored.

With revisions to November and October figures, it puts December jobs unchanged at 1,604,100, down 11,400 jobs from the revised October number.

The report was described as “mundane” by one industry observer. Here are a few other takeaways:

  • Warehouse jobs, which have been on a steep decline the last few months, continued to fall but at a slower rate than recently. They came in at 1,725,500 jobs, down 2,700 jobs. But that’s a relatively small decline compared to the October-to-November drop, which after revisions came in at 12,600 jobs. The net impact of the declines is that warehouse employment peaked in June at 1,791,100. The number of jobs is down 3.5% since then, while total employment in the U.S. has risen every month. 
  • Although railroad executives say they are trying to hire, and in some cases are being berated for not hiring enough, rail jobs declined slightly on a seasonally adjusted basis. They were down 100 jobs, to 147,700 jobs. And they’re down 100 jobs from a year ago as well. The figure is down 200 jobs from two years ago. 
  • Hours worked are sliding in the truck transportation sector. After six consecutive months above 40 hours per week, hours worked in November fell to 40.8, the lowest since 40.5 in April. The Producer Price Index for November in truck transportation, which already was released several weeks ago, showed an increase of 1.1% in November, the first increase after five mnths of declines. 
  • There’s been a significant decline in the number of courier jobs the last two months and jobs are up only slightly for the year. The revised figure for October in that sector was 1,108,20 jobs. But the December number came in at 1,090,800 jobs. That puts it only slightly higher than it was a year ago, when December 2021 courier jobs totaled 1,087,500. 

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