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We Look At Who’s Hiring vs Who’s Firing (#GotBitcoin?)

A slowdown in hiring in transportation and logistics sector follows strong expansion over previous year. We Look At Who’s Hiring vs Who’s Firing (#GotBitcoin?)

Hiring at parcel-delivery firms plummeted in February as job growth slowed sharply across the broader U.S. economy, even as payrolls expanded in other logistics sectors.

Courier and messenger companies, made up mostly of the companies that deliver packages to homes and businesses, cut 9,700 jobs last month, according to preliminary figures the Labor Department released Friday. Warehouse operators and trucking companies added a combined 4,800 jobs from January to February.

The slide in parcel hiring was the steepest drop since January 2017 in a sector that includes United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. Package carriers have added 53,100 jobs over the past 12 months, including 14,500 in January, as e-commerce growth led to more delivery demand.

“This was not a great month for couriers and messengers,” said Martha Gimbel, director of economic research at jobs website Indeed.com’s hiring lab.

Delivery-firm wages also have slipped, counter to the broader national trend. The average hourly wage in the courier and messenger sector was about $21 in January, the most recent data available by sector, compared with $22 a year earlier, Ms. Gimbel said.

The 2018 labor agreement between UPS and unionized workers in its main package division “should lower the effective hourly rate of marginal labor,” Bernstein Research analyst David Vernon wrote in a Friday research note.

Ms. Gimbel noted courier and messenger payrolls have grown by 8% in a year and that movements in hiring in specific industry sectors can be volatile from time to time.

“In the long view, growth has been quite strong,” Ms. Gimbel said. “One month should not cause people to panic, particularly when it was a month that was slow all around.”

Overall the U.S. economy added 20,000 jobs in February, far fewer than economists had expected. Goods-producing industries slashed payrolls by 32,000 jobs, potentially a signal of weaker output that would reduce demand for transportation and logistics services.

Construction payrolls shrank by 31,000, and retailers cut 6,100 positions. Manufacturing added 4,000 jobs, down from 21,000 in January, and factory output softened as cold weather in the Midwest caused transportation disruptions and closed factories.

Warehouse operators added 3,900 jobs last month, nearly a third of January’s postholiday hiring surge.

“There’s a real shortage of labor,” Hamid Moghadam, chief executive of industrial real estate giant Prologis Inc., said in an interview this week. The world’s largest owner of warehouses and distribution centers, the company is working with local workforce programs in Southern California and elsewhere to train high-school students for logistics jobs.

Distribution and storage companies are raising pay and other benefits as they compete with Amazon.com Inc. and others for staff while unemployment is hovering around its lowest in decades.

Trucking companies hired 900 workers in February, the 10th straight month of growth as carriers coming off one of the strongest freight markets in years continue adding capacity. Fleets ordered new trucks at a record clip last year, and have been raising pay to boost hiring.

Long-distance truckload employment added about 13,000 workers last year, “nearly double the number added in 2017, helped partly by a 4% increase in average hourly wages,” KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Todd Fowler wrote in a Thursday research note. “In our view, industry employment trends are contributing to reduced driver attrition, further supporting incremental capacity near term.”

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