Fleet Management

Economic Watch: Unemployment Down but Job Growth Weak

January 10, 2014

By Evan Lockridge

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While new figures show the nation’s unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since October 2008, job growth in December was the slowest in nearly three years.

74,000 non-farm jobs were added, far less than the November amount of 241,000, but good enough to push the unemployment rate down to 6.7% in December, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

American Trucking Associations Chief Economist, Bob Costello, said the report, “doesn't fit with any other data that has been released for December,” in a Tweet on Friday.

For-hire trucking had a net gain of only 100 jobs in December, following the November level of an 8,300 person gain which was revised down from a first-reported 8,400 increase. The larger transportation and warehousing sector, which includes trucking, lost 600 jobs in December.

Compared to December 2012, the number of trucking jobs last month has increased 1.8%, but is 4% lower than the peak hit in January 2007. The trucking figures do not include jobs with private fleets or trucking jobs in other sectors, such as construction.

One of the likely reasons for the slow down in overall job creation during December is the weather, with construction employment falling for the first time since May, but its not the only reason however, there are varying opinions as to the other causes.

Frustrating economist is that other recent economic numbers for December have been positive with expectations the nation’s economy could grow at a stronger annual rate this year than in 2013.

It is worth noting payroll numbers can be extremely volatile, according to the Wall Street Journal. “The numbers for October and November payroll numbers were revised up by a combined 38,000, bringing the average gain over the last three months to about 172,000,” it said in a story. “That represents a small rise from a 167,000 monthly average between July and September. For all of 2013, the average pace of monthly gains reached 182,000, down slightly from 183,000 in 2012.”

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