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The U.S. lost a record amount of jobs in April with the coronavirus pandemic in full-swing, and the trucking industry was among thosesuffering massive losses – with the likelihood of more challenges on the way.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the truck transportation sector had 1,523,900 employees as of March. In April, that figure had dropped to 1,435,600. That is equal to a loss of 88,300 positions.
That is the largest monthly job loss since 2010, and the losses erased gains that have been accumulating since November 2014.
But there could be more pain on the way.
The industry is in the midst of a shipping rate crisis that has caused rates to fall below prices that would allow drivers to profitably run a truck.
Rates as of April 30 had fallen to five-year lows for both the reefer and flatbed equipment categories, according to data from freight and analytics firm DAT. For dry van freight, the national average was just $1.64 per mile.
In some cases, it has become more profitable for a truck to remain parked than to accept a job where it will lose money.
The shipping rate issue has become so bad that the industry wrote a letter to Congress this week, asking for the government to regulate the transactional market and increase price transparency. It is arguing that brokers, who are the middlemen that set up transactions between drivers and shippers, are hiding transaction records, leading many to believe they could be taking unfair commissions.
Those pressures, on top of the pandemic-related financial stresses, have increased the likelihood that smaller companies with less of a financial cushion will fail.
That comes on the heels of a particularly brutal 2019, where nearly 800 companies closed.
Overall, the United States lost a record 20.5 million jobs last month, as the unemployment rate ballooned to 14.7 percent. The sectors that saw the largest losses were leisure, hospitality and retail.