February was a strong month for employers, including companies in the transportation industry. Businesses added a total of 236,000 jobs last month, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This forced the unemployment rate down from 7.9 percent to 7.7 percent, the lowest level since December 2008.
Transportation industry gains jobs, may continue to rise
Numbers within the transportation sector were also strong last month. Data showed for-hire trucking companies added 5,600 payroll jobs in February, the largest single-month gains seen in a year. The industry has added 42,500 jobs since February 2012, a 3.2 percent year-over-year jump.
As other industries begin to grow, the need for truck drivers will continue to increase. Report data shows construction and manufacturing are on the rise, which could bring more transportation companies additional business, as producers and builders will need more materials and supplies transported from around the country to meet consumer demands. Traditionally, during higher employment periods, these sectors have also absorbed commercial drivers tired of life on the road, presenting further challenges for transportation companies.
Doing more with existing assets
As employment numbers continue to pick up and the economy turns around, transportation companies may face improved business opportunities constrained by a growing driver shortage.
To increase productivity from existing fleets and drivers, companies may use fleet management or transportation management software to better run their fleets. Such technology can help managers improve asset utilization, or the time that their trucks and drivers are actively involved in revenue-generating or service-oriented activities. By identifying out-of-route mileage or excessive dwell time at stops or increases in unscheduled maintenance events, transportation and fleet management software can uncover and systematically reduce waste in scheduling, dispatching and execution.
For local delivery and multi-stop routes such as those food service or janitorial supply fleets may run, managers can use vehicle routing software to automate planning the shortest and most cost effective driving plans. Optimizing route planning can increase planner and driver productivity significantly while ensuring deliveries and pickups are made according to service requirements. Route optimization software can also reduce fuel expenses by cutting down on wasted miles from inefficient route patterns.