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More than 1.3 million still on unemployment in the trucking industry


Despite a rebound in unemployment, more than 1.3 million people in the trucking industry remain on unemployment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At its peak, the unemployment rate in March 2020 reached 14.7% — though some estimate that the actual number could have topped 16%, as many many states were struggling to keep up with the influx of demand and some of those who were unemployed had to wait months to start receiving their unemployment benefits. As of August, 2020, the unemployment rate fell to 8.4% and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that September’s rate of unemployment will fall to 7.7%.

As of August 2020, approximately 1,386,000 people in the trucking industry remained on unemployment, compared to 587,000 in August 2019.

2020 Unemployment Rates By Month

  • January 2020 unemployment rate: 3.6%
  • February 2020 unemployment rate: 3.5%
  • March 2020 unemployment rate: 4.5%
  • April 2020 unemployment rate: 14.7%
  • May 2020 unemployment rate: 13.3%
  • June 2020 unemployment rate: 11.2%
  • July 2020 unemployment rate: 10.2%
  • August 2020 unemployment rate: 8.4%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

It’s unclear the number of CDL holders who remain on unemployment, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics groups all industries in categories. The transportation category accounts for a mixture of positions within the trucking industry.

With several trucking companies shutting their doors in 2020, combined with layoffs due to Covid, it’s likely to have caused an influx of need for unemployment benefits.

As freight volumes rise and unemployment remains high, trucking companies are scrambling to fill trucks to meet capacity demands.

According to a press release from US Xpress, higher driver turnover, diminishing TL capacity and “overwhelming” volumes – that drive up rates in the upcoming year.

“Each of these three themes will greatly influence trucking rates over the next four to six quarters. It’s becoming increasingly clear that high tide conditions will persist for a long while, so shippers and carriers will have to plan – and act – accordingly,” US Xpress President and CEO Eric Fuller stated.

To meet their driver needs, many trucking companies are upping their pay packages and offering generous sign-on bonuses. Just this week, Schneider announced a new pay package.

“Schneider National said Monday that team truck drivers…received a pay bump of two to four cents per mile last month. It may seem puny, but Schneider says its team drivers average 5,000 to 6,000 miles a week — so it works out to a pay increase of up to $6,240 a year per driver. That has pushed annual pay for many Schneider drivers above $90,000, the company said,” Business Insider reported.

Many experts in the industry agree, trucking companies are going to have to up the ante to fill their seats.


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