FTR Driver Labor Index dips 0.1%
April 11, 2012
Employment took a breather in March, but it is not a cause for panic. Although concern would be appropriate. The FTR Driver Labor Index dropped 0.1% from February to March. The year-over-year gains remained positive, falling just slightly to 0.8%. Despite relative weakness in several employment sectors, a drop in the labor force negated those weak sectors and led to the nearly unchanged index.
After February hit its highest level since early 2010, March showed only a small decline. A modest decline in the labor force, down less than 200k in March after 2 months of 400+k gains, was offset by weak employment growth. The index nearly matched February’s year-over-year showing, rising 0.8%. February was the best month since May 2010. March was the third straight year-over-year gain. 2012 should see an uptick as we are comparing to the weak numbers of early 2011.
U.S. employment situation
March employment showed a gain of just 120k, but the 3-month average is at 210k.The unemployment rate inched down to 8.2%, mostly due to a drop in the labor force. Look for employment to stay above 200k for most of 2012 with acceleration possible later.
Manufacturing continues to be the star, adding another 37k jobs. Construction and retail were once again both down. The service sector stalled, adding less than 100k for the first time since last August. Trucking employment fell by just 1k after a strong February.
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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