FTR Driver Labor Index up 0.4%
March 13, 2012
The employment markets are slowly heating up, but the Driver Labor Index continues to rise. The FTR Driver Labor Index rose 0.4% from January to February. The year-over-year gains showed improving strength, accelerating to 0.9%. The strong increase was due to a combination of weakness in construction and retail employment and another surge in labor force participation.
The index is at its highest level since early 2010. The key contributor was another strong addition to the labor force, up 476k in February after a 508k gain in January. The index had its best year-over-year showing since May of 2010. It was also the first consecutive year-over-year gain since December 2010. 2012 should see an uptick as we are comparing to the weak numbers of early 2011. Freight growth is looking to improve in 2012 after relatively modest monthly growth rates in 2011.
U.S. employment situation
February employment showed a gain of 227k, and the 3-month average is at 245k. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3%, a positive sign given the large influx of labor force participants the last 2 months. It is the best 2 month labor force gain since the early 2000’s.
Manufacturing continues to be the economic engine, adding another 31k jobs. Construction and retail were down for the month. The service sector added more than 200k for the second straight month. Trucking had its best month since last February, adding 11k jobs.
A rising index indicates that the potential driver pool has increased. A falling index indicates that the potential pool has shrunk. This is a measure of labor participants who are likely candidates to consider trucking or already are. It does not account for tougher driver restrictions that have come into play through CSA.
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