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Sectoral Unemployment: Transportation and Warehousing

Updated : August 4th, 2020

Unemployment Transportation and Warehousing

Transportation and Warehousing are one of the most important employers in the US. After the worldwide air travel restrictions imposed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, this sub-sector made headlines with job losses and furloughs. Let’s look broadly at unemployment in transportation and warehousing and the likely trends for the future.

Profile Of Transportation And Warehousing Sector

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this sector employed about 7 million people in 2018. On average, about 3.5% unemployment benefits claimants were from this sector over the previous 2 quarters.

 The top occupations in this sector are drivers-truck and freight, sales and freight workers, cab drivers, and postal service mail carriers. Drivers constitute the largest number of employees. Employees earn an average hourly wage of $25. Many gig workers are employed and paid on an hourly basis in this sector.

The best-paid workers in this sector are airline pilots followed by flight attendants.

The working hours’ number a minimum of 38 on average. 

Impact Of COVID-19

Pennsylvania reports the highest number of layoffs from this sector. In states like Texas and Rhode Island, this sector has reported significant layoffs.

Unemployment rate estimates are yet to be released reflecting the complete impact of the coronavirus but, it’s likely to be higher than the last time there was such a peak- 15% in June 2010, amidst the GFC-2008.

Air Travel

The US restricted international air travel in March as the pandemic began its global spread. On March 11, the US had banned foreign national entering from China, Iran, and some European countries. Non-essential international travel was banned. The borders with Canada and Mexico closed on March 20-21. 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that 8500 passenger aircraft have been grounded due to travel restrictions and dropping demand world over. This has caused most airlines to furlough employees.

The President is now considering some restrictions on domestic air travel since the virus is spreading very quickly and the deaths are spiking. Florida, Maryland, South Carolina and Texas governor have already ordered passengers from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to self-quarantine for 14 days.


Amtrak reports very few bookings and record cancelations, forcing it to reduce operation along many routes. The President is also considering restrictions between viral hotspots.

Freight Transportation still sees the operation as essential supplies are being transported in bulk. However, the rail freight volume has shown a huge dip.


With the drop in demand, cargo transport is suffering. Truck drivers find themselves without work. 

Intra-city Transportation

States like New York with extensive subway networks are seeing a huge drop in ridership. Buses also report the same.

In recent years, cab aggregator services have grown in employment share. The self-quarantine restrictions and city-wide lockdowns have caused an unavoidable reduction in ridership. Drivers are now lucky if they get 3-4 passengers a day.

While Uber and Lyft, the two biggest aggregation apps, pushed for their drivers to be eligible for UI benefits, there are no guidelines yet on how they will avail the compensation. These companies classed drivers as contractors and thus didn’t pay into the unemployment insurance program.

Jobs still available

As you can see in our article on jobs you can get during the lockdown, logistics and e-commerce companies are hiring for their fulfillment centers. They need people with a commercial driving license. Similarly, some pest control or lawn management companies, as well as cleaning companies, have advertised for drivers.

Future Prospects for Transportation and Warehousing

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) has provided $29 million as part of the bailout to support airlines in keeping employees on the payroll. However, this restriction will only last until September 2020. 

Second, the act allows airlines to fire up to 10% of its employees. SO, altogether we can expect job losses eventually unless the global economy bounces back very fast.

Fewer riders on public transportation within cities and the economic slowdown will drop revenue for transit agencies. They will have low operating expenses especially if they want to retain employees. The public transportation companies are in talks with the government for some easing measures.

The main reason for this sector being affected is its nature of being an intermediate service between producers and consumers. When consumption is down, there is no requirement for cargo transportation, while inventoried warehouses languish in the hope of better days. Employees are going in to work at warehouses with precautionary measures in place.

The transportation and warehousing sector will likely make the fastest recovery when the lockdown ends. At least the public transportation companies will make revenues again, though the recoupment of air travel will need resumption of international flights. Warehouses are still functional though at reduced capacity, and with the end of the pandemic should be running at full steam again.


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  1. So I have been getting ue for 6 months and on Oct 21 I had a fact finding issue found and cleared after taking a month, I got put on hold I got nothing no benefits nothing because I am on hold until cleared up and it was another month later in my favor, I’ve been without payment since Oct 21 since then I have been on HOLD, I am beyond pissed, I call every Fri I see the letter I received saying its in my favor that says I am Monetary Eligible-yet I still have 6 payments on hold. I call DEO and I talk, I beg and I get told “we are working on it”, the letter is in my favor I am poor not rich I am poor Why how do you people get away with this

  2. Hello

    I’m 59 years old and was laid off in March 2020 due to Covid.
    In June 2020 I was advised my job was eliminated and there is no chance of me
    Being brought back. I’m collecting UI since March.

    Pondering the thought of taking my early retirement pension as I can’t survive on
    UI any longer. My pension is of course reduced due to my age. Full pension is age 62.

    If I apply for early reduced pension in this situation, does my UI benefit get decreased? I’m in New York.
    I’m still looking for full time work. No luck.

    Thank you so much

  3. i was just layed off from my job, i did collect benefits in pa. my job is seasonal igot unemployment payments in jan. to april i had 26 weeks of unemployment , but only used about 13 weeks, and was called back to work. i received 2 weeks of 600 dollars of stimlus money. my question is now that i reopened my 2020 claim . i,m i still elegibe for any more stimlus payments along with my regular unemployment payments.

  4. I am 65 yrs old in California and being layed off in Dec 2020. If I apply for unemployment benefits and collect a company pension, will the pension reduce the unemployment benefits ? If you answer call unemployment what is the department or do you have a phone number for a help line. I have called and get automated questions that do not apply to my situation.
    Cannot get to a live person.

  5. Several years ago I was part of a reduction in force and was early-retired for pension purposes. I count on this small pension ($2K/mo) to supplement my employment which has been inconsistent this past two years. I am filing for UI in IL and I qualify for it, but they are saying my pension reduces my UI benefit to zero. Is that right?

    1. Mike,

      That is partially right. The pension will have an impact on UI benefits. Please check for relevant info on the Unemployment Office’s website.

  6. I have $219.00 left on my UE and still no work due to covid-19 will i be able to get a extension on my UE and will it cover the last two weeks. I request payment tomorrow.

      1. My benefits have expired, still.unemployed due to over 65, wdiebrtes, high blood pressure and have one kidney, Can I get PUA , Cares Act for any assistance

  7. im working at a place i have been layed off from a lot in my career.i got 30 yrs in there so i can retire now but need another job to make it hoping to stay working and get more hours.If i take a new job and get layed off there I will BE DRAWING 1400 A MONTH FROM THE JOB I WORKED 30 YRS would i be able to draw unemployment if the new job lays me off and would it be reduced because of my retirement money of 1400 month.

  8. My bf was laid off in April he got the the 600 to start with now he is only getting the unemployment and no extra when we hear ppl getting 3 checks totaling 40k that might be lies but still that is bullshit.

  9. I Sharon Bland or Sharon Scott or Sharon Ann Mccraw
    Use my phone to claim two of my boyfriends and my own benefits. Is that ok ?

  10. I’m getting pua on employment and it was supposed to be backdated to May 27th when I wasn’t ableable to start my new job and somehow it’s August 24th they said it would be backdated been sending messages and pua people keep saying they have emailed you guys too but nobody gets back to me who do I need to contact about this thank you

  11. I check my checking account balance every week but I cannot tell if I am getting my 300.00 extra unemployment. Also. How can I tell if I got my back time unemployment .

    1. Thelma,

      I did not understand what you meant. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for precise answers to all your questions.

  12. I have exhausted my UI and all extensions. Not eligible for Fed Ed. Does EDD open a PUA claim for me. Or do I have to aoole for it. Its been past 30 days since receiving my Fed Ed denial letter.

  13. i have been unemployed for the whole year almost and since i have been trying to distance myself to better my all around health, it took me this long to file for benefits, i was hoping to get back pay all the way to the beginning.

    1. Zach,

      To qualify, the claimant is required to have sufficient earnings/employment during the “Base Period”. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website for more.

  14. Thank you o much for investigating this. When I received an overpayment statement and my benefits where stopped I felt my heart drop to my stomach. Already being evicted by a slumlord and now no income, i had to start working when i feel very at risk for getting the virus because of pre-existing conditions and the reason for filing in the first place. i am a cosmetologist and considered non-essential. I feel utterley hopeless and helpless in this situation.

  15. I cannot contact anyone in the unemployment offices because the phone hangs up on me in all cases after listening over and over the recorded message. I have called three numbers .

    I have received pandemic unemployment since March 31st. There was a pending adjudication but I never received any questions, letters nor emails about it and I was approved and paid. Now…this is what the website says:
    7 of 7 entries
    Issue Identification Number Employer Name Issue Type Status Date Mailed Level
    0002 7693 59-01
    PUA Pending 11/16/2020 Adjudication
    0002 4773 71-01
    Program Integrity Mailed 11/6/2020 Adjudicati
    Claimant Inbox
    Select the Search button to display your action items. To narrow your search, input issue date range below and select the Search button.
    Issue Date: From: To: 11/6/2020 to 11/16/2020
    • Below are the items that require your attention and that you need to take action on for your claim.
    • Select the Document ID
    I need this money to survive as others do while I am trying to re-establish any contract freelance work I am capable of doing….I report my small jobs as I get them but they do not come close to equaling my unemployment as of yet. Please tell me where I can go to find out what is needed here.

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