FTR Driver Labor Index jumps
June 6, 2012
A jump in people getting back into the labor force helped move the Driver Labor Index higher in May. The FTR Driver Labor Index rose 0.6% in May. The year-over-year gain reaccelerated and rose 0.9%, tied for the best growth since late 2010. The largest monthly rise in the labor force since late 2007 was the main reason for the jump in the index. A sizable drop in construction employment also contributed a minor amount. A rising index indicates a larger pool of possible people to hire/train as drivers.
May continued the recent string of year-over-year gains and broke the two month-over-month drops that had occurred in the index. The year-over-year gains were tied for the best growth since 2010, on par with what we had in February of this year. The large gain in May was almost entirely due to the very big surge in labor force participation. While it was the largest single monthly gain since 2007, the two month gain at the start of this year was stronger and accounts for the two month surge that occurred at that time. The year ago comparisons should stay strong for the next couple of months as we are comparing to a weak period in the middle of 2011.
U.S. employment situation
Three months makes a trend, and the trend is down for employment. After averaging 250k jobs per month from Dec to Feb, growth has slowed the last 4 months to just 69k in May. Unemployment ticked up slightly due to the large jump in the labor force.
Manufacturing continues to grow, adding 12k jobs. Construction lost 28k, and retail was weak, adding only 3k jobs. Trucking added 7k jobs in May, tied for the second best monthly gain in over a year.
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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