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Transport, Logistics Hiring Rebounded in April

Shipping sectors added 8.600 jobs, with hiring accelerating at warehousing operations even as railroads retrenched.

Warehousing and transportation companies added 8,600 jobs in April after three consecutive months of losses, as trucking rebounded and logistics companies and couriers accelerated hiring,

Trucking companies added 700 jobs last month after paring back payrolls by 3,000 jobs combined in March and February, according to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Warehousing and storage companies stepped up hiring, adding 6,500 jobs last month, after adding 1,100 jobs in March. Courier and messenger companies added 2,500 jobs in April, compared to 1,000 jobs the previous month. The gains in both industries, boosted in part by growing e-commerce sales, come as the retail sector shed 3,100 jobs.

Rail transportation, however, lost 3,700 jobs after dropping 2,800 jobs in March and 2,900 in February as the freight railroads retrench amid steep declines in coal and energy shipments. Carload volume for U.S. freight railroads fell 16.1% year-over-year in April, according to the Association of American Railroads, including a 39.7% slide in coal shipments.

Norfolk Southern Corp. last month announced it was eliminating 135 jobs at a Knoxville, Tenn., rail yard, the latest in a series of cutbacks tied to changes in the energy sector. The jobs report said the mining and logging sector, which includes the coal and oil and gas industry, cut 8,000 jobs in April.

Logistics industry employment as a whole recovered somewhat as overall U.S. employment saw its weakest gain since last September, missing economists’ expectations. But wages improved, and unemployment remained steady.

The factory sector gained 4,000 jobs in April as U.S. manufacturing activity continued its rebound, albeit slowly. The Institute for Supply Management reported earlier this week that production expanded in April as factories saw relief from rising oil prices and the weaker dollar.

But the gains follow two consecutive months of losses during which the sector shrank by 45,000 people. And goods-producing employment, which fell by 4,000 jobs in March, shrank by another 3,000 jobs in April.

Some of this has been reflected in reports of overcapacity and weak demand in the trucking industry in recent months. Trucking fleets in April ordered the fewest Class 8 trucks in any April since 2009, as companies brace for the weakness to continue.