Looking at labor pool trends

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Trucking industry workers – especially drivers – come from all walks of life nowadays, but there are some broader trends in the labor force that are worth noting as carriers continue to ramp up their recruiting efforts.

According to a recent survey conducted Harris Poll for CareerBuilder.com, the U.S. jobs outlook for the second quarter of 2014 is akin to last year's forecast, but certain industries are expected to outperform the national average for hiring.

For example, the number of manufacturing firms planning to add full-time, permanent headcount increased three percentage points in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2013 – beating the national average for this year's forecast by seven percentage points. Also, information technology (IT), financial Services, professional and business services, plus the health care sectors are all also among industries projected to lead in job creation.  

"While employment has not yet reached an ideal level, the U.S. is moving closer to the tipping point for substantial job growth," said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. "The economy is expanding, the housing market is recovering, consumer confidence is up and companies are starting to tap into cash reserves to invest – these are all good signs. As these trends strengthen, we expect hiring to hold steady in the second quarter and gain ground in the back half of the year."

CareerBuilder’s hiring outlook – based on a national Harris Poll survey of 2,138 hiring managers and human resource professionals across a wide range of industries – noted that 26% of employers plan to add full-time, permanent staff in the second quarter, on par with last year, with 8% expecting to downsize and 61% planning no change in staffing levels.

Given that employers historically have been more conservative in estimates than actual hiring activity, the number may come in higher at quarter's end, Ferguson noted.

Yet here’s a potential opening for trucking: Temporary employment is showing a slight increase over 2013 projections, with 33% of the managers surveyed planning to hire temporary or contract workers in the second quarter, while another 26% plan to transition some contract or temporary staff into permanent employees in the second quarter.

Overall, according to CareerBuilder’s Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) subsidiary, more than 2.9 million U.S. workers were employed in temporary jobs in 2013 – and increase of 28% since 2010 and outpacing the 5% growth rate for all jobs. 

Could trucking perhaps woo such temporary workers with the potential for full time work, pay and benefits?  Well for one thing, the truck driver occupation is one seeing a lot of growth in “temporary” positions.

According to EMSI’s data, the number of “temporary” tractor-trailer truck driver job openings is projected to jump 3% from 2013 to 2014 on a national basis, with media pay hitting the $18.37 per hour mark.

In a separate CareerBuilder and Harris Poll study, 42% of employers reported that they plan to hire temporary or contract workers for all of 2014, up from 40% last year, though two in five (43%) also plan to transition some temporary employees into full-time permanent staff.

"Coming off of a hard-hitting recession, companies want more flexibility in their workforce to quickly ramp up and ramp down their businesses as needed. Temporary workers provide that flexibility," said Eric Gilpin, president of CareerBuilder's staffing & recruiting group. "Temporary employment is growing across industries and metros, and providing great opportunities for workers to test-drive different work experiences and network with employers."

Of course, trucking needs more full-time drivers just to handle current demand. Indeed, according to statistics from the American Trucking Association and other industry bodies, trucking suffered from a shortage of some 113,000 drivers per year and with the hours of service (HOS) rule changes made last July that number is expected to almost triple to 323,000 by 2015.

Those are just some of the trends trucking needs to keep in mind as Spring begins to make its long-awaited arrival.

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