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February 5, 2016 9:00 AM, EST

Trucking Adds 1,500 Jobs in January

Unemployment Falls to Almost Eight-Year Low
ArcBest Corp.

Trucking  added 1,500 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.9%, an almost eight-year low, the Labor Department reported Feb. 5.

The transportation and warehousing sector, which includes trucking, lost 20,500 positions, as the courier and messenger job sector lost 14,500 jobs. The jobless rate fell to the lowest level since February 2008.

The 151,000 rise in payrolls, while less than forecast, largely reflected payback for a seasonal hiring pickup in the final two months of 2015, Bloomberg News reported.

The rise in trucking jobs follows a 3,900 rise in December that was revised down from 5,300. Total transportation services and warehousing jobs rose by 17,000 last month.

“This is a very encouraging report — the fact that wages rose is very important, the unemployment rate continues to go lower, and job growth at 151,000 is still a good number,” said Kathy Bostjancic, an economist at Oxford Economics USA in New York. The firm is among the best forecasters of payroll data over the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“We can’t continue at December’s pace going forward — that’s not sustainable," she said.

Retailers added almost 58,000 jobs last month, the most since November 2014, and the health-care industry took on ab additional 44,000 workers. Perhaps most surprising was a 29,000 gain in hiring at manufacturers, the biggest increase since August 2013, Bloomberg reported.