Driver Labor Index falls in April
May 8, 2012
Despite weak job growth the driver supply fell for the second straight month. The FTR Driver Labor Index dropped 0.3% in April. This followed a 0.1% decline in March. The year-over-year gain remained positive but has slowed considerably, up just 0.4%. Despite weakness in overall job growth, a drop in the labor force combined with continuing growth in the manufacturing sector to pull down the driver supply.
April continued a string of four straight year-over-year gains, but the index has fallen two months in a row. This has slowed the year ago comparisons by over half. After February hit its highest level since early 2010, March showed a small decline and April fell more significantly. The labor force continued to contract in April, falling by nearly 350k people. This probably had the single biggest effect on the driver labor index. Unless the employment woes continue, 2012 should start to see an uptick as we are comparing to the weak numbers of early 2011.
U.S. employment situation
A second weak month of employment data in April is disheartening. Fortunately, most economic indicators (especially the important manufacturing indicators) are not signifying a significant slowdown is occurring. After averaging 270k jobs per month in Jan and Feb, growth slowed to 154k in March and just 115k in April.
Manufacturing continued to move forward, adding 16k jobs. Construction remains weak, but retail added 30k job after disappointing the last 2 months. Trucking added 2k jobs in April.
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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