The trucking industry added 4,200 new jobs in December while the nation’s overall job rolls, grew by 155,000, the Department of Labor said.
The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged in December at 7.8%, matching November’s, four-year low.
Based on adjusted government numbers, trucking grew by 2,900 jobs in November and 4,200 in October.
Bob Costello, Chief Economist for American Trucking Associations, dubbed the overall December employment numbers “no better, no worse.”
Trucking added 44,400 jobs overall in 2012, slightly below the 46,900 for-hire trucking jobs added in 2011, Costello said.
“Still, the growth in trucking employment far outpaced overall payrolls,” he added. “Specifically, trucking employment was up 3.5% in 2012 while nonfarm payrolls increased just 1.4%.”
There were 1.36 million people employed in the for-hire trucking industry in December, the highest since November 2008.
“The numbers show that we are growing and that the industry is hauling more freight. We’ve only had one monthly decrease in all of 2012, and that was in March,” Costello added.
The government data are not influenced by the industry-wide shortage of truck drivers, he said.
“I don’t think the shortage would cause the numbers to go up,” Costello said. “If you’re short workers and you can’t hire them, it doesn’t count.as a positive.”
Elsewhere in the economy, the Department of Labor report for December showed that the trend of lower public-sector payrolls continued with government jobs contracting by 13,000 while private firms added 168,000 people to payrolls during the one-month period.
Manufacturers and construction firms added 25,000 and 30,000, respectively, during December. For the construction industry, last month marked the largest monthly gain since September 2011. In 2012, construction employment rose by 18,000, or just 0.6%.
However, new housing starts increased more than 25% last year, which means employment will have to rise soon for construction growth to continue, the government said.