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Indeed Transportation Jobs Tracker: Rising Wages Despite Slowing Employment Growth

In the Indeed Hiring Lab’s transportation tracker, we analyze the Transportation and Warehousing industry using the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data. We look at the state of overall Transportation and Warehousing employment, the industry’s subsectors, and associated wages.

Transportation and Warehousing is a Bureau of Labor Statistics category that encompasses the spectrum of passenger and cargo transportation, including air, rail, and water. It also includes warehousing and storage of goods, along with associated transportation support activities.

Transportation and Warehousing saw both employment and wage growth in Q3 of this year. Since June, the industry has added 10,900 employees total through September, and the hourly wage rose to $25.06. 

Over the past decade, the Transportation and Warehousing industry increased by 1.3 million workers. The industry represents 3.67% of all employment, up 0.02 percentage points from the same time last year. Yet September’s year-over-year employment growth of 2.0% is the lowest we’ve seen since December 2013 — a far cry from February 2015’s high of 5.0%. 

While Transportation and Warehousing continues to outpace the rest of the labor market, the on-going trade war seems to be weighing on the sector, potentially driving its overall slowing.

Transportation and Warehousing overview

  • Compared to the same time last year, average quarterly employment growth has declined to 2.3% and is below Q2’s average growth of 2.9% and Q1’s of 3.6%. 
  • Transportation and Warehousing’s year-over-year employment growth continues to outpace the overall labor market, but the gap is narrowing. At the beginning of the year, the gap was more than 0.02 percentage points, yet as of August, the gap has narrowed to less than 0.01 percentage points.

Transportation and Warehousing wages rise despite hours declining

  • Hourly wage growth continues to accelerate, with Q3’s average year-over-year growth rate reaching 2.7%. This outpaces both Q2’s growth rate of 2.1% and Q1’s growth rate of 1.4%. 
  • The increase in hourly wages is despite a decline in average weekly hours. Since the beginning of 2019, the year-over-year growth in average weekly hours has fallen. However, from Q2 to Q3, the decline is slight, coming in at just -0.5%. 
  • Given rising hourly wage growth but declining hours, Q3 quarterly growth of average weekly earnings has remained flat. With year-over-year growth at 0.7%, it is the slowest quarterly growth rate we’ve seen since Q2 of 2015.

Transportation and Warehousing subsectors

  • Couriers and Messengers (2.2%), which provide local delivery of documents and parcels, and Warehousing and Storage (0.6%) lead Transportation and Warehousing’s subsectors’ average employment growth in Q3 from Q2. Together they point to the rise in rapid delivery services such as Amazon same-day delivery and food delivery services like Postmates and GrubHub.
  • Trucking Transportation (-0.2%) and Rail Transportation (-2.2%) both saw a decline in average quarterly employment growth in Q3 of this year. The slowdown in these sectors started in the second half of 2018, which is right around when the trade war started heating up. Given that both forms of transportation play a key role in moving goods, the trade war may potentially be an added weight on subsector growth.
  • Truck Transportation, Couriers and Messengers, and Support Activities for Transportation are the three largest Transportation subsectors, and as of September, accounted for 68.8% of all Transportation employment, at approximately three million workers. Yet while there is still year-over-year employment growth, overall slowing is evident in these three subsectors.