June brings lowest Class 1 employment levels since 2012 – will they get worse?

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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June brings lowest Class 1 employment levels since 2012 – will they get worse?

It should come as no surprise that Class 1 rail employment posted another drop in June. The double whammy of the pre-pandemic recession and COVID-19 lockdowns has stifled economic activity, and the resulting impact on rail employment has been significant.

FreightWays reports mid-June employment levels were down 18% over June 2019 levels. And, employment even dropped 2.3% compared to the previous month (May 2020). The total number of Class 1 employees in mid-June was 116,128, the lowest since 2012.

Across the industry, headcount drops were reported from all employment categories, including maintenance of way and structures. The largest category decline was train and engine, which dropped 28.6% from June 2019.

As the number of coronavirus cases grows, it’s logical to assume that the economy, rail traffic and rail employment will be even more negatively impacted. However, the uncertainty surrounding whether the virus will be brought under control soon or if a vaccine will provide immunity from the virus, leaves rail industry managers in the dark. In its Q2 earnings report, Kansas City Southern said it was not providing financial guidance in the foreseeable future.

Categories: Class 1, Freight, Railroad News
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