Transportation Jobs Report for July Shows Slight Increases

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly jobs report for July 2020. The report shows a modest uptick in transportation construction and manufacturing jobs, along with significant gains in air and ground passenger transportation jobs (all versus June 2020). But transportation jobs are still down significantly from the February 2020 pre-coronavirus levels.

Heavy construction. The number of Americans employed in heavy and civil engineering construction rose a smidgen (+1,800 or so jobs) in July, to 1.018 million. This number is still down over 81,000 jobs from the pre-COVID levels, or down 7.4 percent.

Transportation equipment. The economy added back 33,200 additional jobs in the manufacture of transportation equipment in July, a 2.1 percent increase. But that total is still down almost 119,000 jobs (-6.8%) from the pre-COVID level.

Air transportation. An additional 16,200 jobs in air transportation service provision were restored in July, a 4.3 percent increase. But any discussion of month-to-month fluctuation employment is far less significant than the aviation job loss apocalypse that will take place on October 1, when the CARES Act’s prohibition on air carrier and air contractor layoffs will end (unless Congress acts to extend that sunset date).

Ground passenger transportation. The economy added back 19,600 jobs in transit and ground passenger transportation in July, a 6.3 percent increase over June. But the sector is still down over 175,000 jobs since coronavirus hit.

Rail transportation. Railroads shed about 3,200 jobs in July, about 2.2 percent of the June total. The sector is down 18,400 jobs (-11.5%) since the onset of coronavirus.

Couriers and messengers. The only bright side of the coronavirus, as far as transportation is concerned, is the growth in the courier-messenger sector (home deliveries, particularly of food). That sector added another 9,200 positions in July, and is now up over 69,000 jobs (+8.2%) since the onset of the crisis.

Non-transportation jobs. To put the numbers of transportation jobs lost in perspective, our table continues to show some sectors that have been far more affected by COVID than transportation (in terms of jobs lost to date). Even after a lot of reopening in July, the hospitality sector (restaurants and bars, hotels, and amusement parks/casinos/recreation) are still down over 4 million jobs from February. And local governments are still down almost 1 million jobs (the local education jobs gain shown for July is mostly a retroactive recalculation of the June number reported last month, not real new gains).

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