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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. I had trouble getting my proof of self-employment to upload in secure file exchange and finally got it submitted by 12:06 am , 6 minutes late. What are the possibilities that they will deny it? I have received unemployment from March 2020 to some of Jan and some in Feb 2021. Most of Dec, Jan, Feb, March, & april were stopped for this proof of employment.
    Also, I see proof of Income as a 2nd issue but it is always on there. That was not on my TO DO list.
    I feel for u all on ID.ME…

    Anyone trying to reach UI, call their number, press 2 or 3 (questions abt filing a claim?) and then wait thru the message. At the end of it, u will be connected to a live person! I promise.. don’t push another button.. I’ve done it 4 times and it never failed.

    We lost our home, my ex took my child…. (kept her after a visit and called cps facilitating drama while the cops wouldn’t give her back without paperwork locked up in the court house..shut down for covid) I raised her by myself for 12 years & now she is with a violent alcoholic and parental alienating parent .. ….my dog, my 9-year sweet little best friend, was attacked, passing away 3 days later.. all in this time frame.
    But! It will all be ok. I have faith.

    Be grateful for your life and all that is in it today. What u dwell on daily will be your strength or weakness.
    Good luck to all of u.
    And thank you, Jeff, for responding out here. It is appreciated!
    Davulia S.

  2. I filed over two months ago. I have not received any information. My status says “pending resolution”. I have no way of contacting anyone. My position was eliminated at my job and I submitted the documentations online. I dont know what else I can do.

  3. I have been apply Ohio Pua unemployment since July 5th still pending issues. Upload what they ask for when ever I call says your case is in Adjudication. Very very frustrated, financially I am broke. Health issues. Waiting a long period.Don’t know what I will do ?

    1. Nafisa,

      I can understand your situation. There will be a delay considering the number of applications that are being processed. Please continue chasing the office/check your status online at regular intervals until payments normalize.

    2. Same here since Feb 2021 turned in all the documents still pending issues 3 months now. When you call they tell you to be patient. Pulling my hair out it’s so frustrating.

  4. I was receiving PUA unemployment. they made me file for a new claim in February. Now I am in adjudication even though I gave all the same information from my previous claim. Have been adjudication since February and I call and they say they will put in a ticket to have an Adjudicator call me. Nothing. I am wondering If I can go down to to Maryland Unemployment Office and demand that someone talk with me to release my claim for payment. It’s been 56 days. I read that they have a maximum of 45 days.

    1. Luis,

      Your adjudicator may be inundated with pending cases. Please continue to follow up (if you have the contact details) or consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

    2. t sounds just like mine only im disqualified yet actie every till sept 4th . they haven’t asked me for anything! i file then its disqualified yet im told im ok and have nothing to do bit wait for an answer? answer to what? they switched my program and all and asked me to provide proof for a claim that wa denied al eady back in 2018! deny me once and then again perhaps? lol idk

  5. My mom had unemployment in Florida. She just recently moved temporally to California with a sister since she needs assistance, and now the website is telling her she cannot do anything because she is register in another state. Can she keep filing unemployment in Florida, even if she is living and register now in another state? how is the process to change the unemployment? I tried calling and there is no answer. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie,

      Please ask your mother to consider transferring the UI benefits from FL to CA (details will be available on either of the websites). If there are benefits weeks left in the account, she will be able to claim them.

    1. Leatha,

      UI benefits are offered to claimants who lose employment involuntarily and be able to and available for work.

  6. I lived in ga in 2019 and move to florida in 2020 and work for the xmas months in nov-dec. I was told to do a combine wage claim. my question is which state do i file the claim in?

  7. I filed for pua in Ohio back in October 2020.My claim has been in ajudacatuon since 11/1/20.So 2 to 6 weeks is a total understatement! When I call.i am told to basically hurry up and wait some more.I have recently been redetermined and my claim is allowed.but I have one pending issue.How long is too long?

    1. Nicole,

      Unfortunately, nobody has an answer. There are perhaps thousands of pending applications. Please consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

  8. If you claim your weeks for unemployment and for the next 2 months you still have not received your money. Where can you go in volusia county to talk with a live person

      1. HI Jeff,
        I applied back in Dec 5th, 2020 and I haven’t received any correspondence, is there a local office that I can make an appt to make certain my claim is right.

        1. Adam,

          You can consider visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible (details will be available on the Unemployment Office’s website).

  9. On NYS DOL website, my claim is saying current yet the information is for my old claim with 0 days remaining despite receiving 2 weeks of payments on the new claim and I was able to certify last night. I haven’t received anything; no letters or emails.

  10. I was disqualified for UI benefits for not providing an ID and other forms of identification. How do I fix this?

        1. Gary,

          You may not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

    1. Hi Mike, I’m in NYS and was at the end of my BYE on 3/14, I was still certifying but wasn’t getting paid. I found out I had to file a new claim because my other was exhausted. I’m still waiting on approval. Maybe you have to file a new claim. I hope this helps.

  11. They say 2-6 weeks it’s more accurate to say 2-6 months; and when you call many of them are rude and unwilling to assist!

  12. someone needs to look into Sharon L. Anton gillette, wyo. or dickinson, nd she is a fraud and has done so many fraudulent things and please look into her

    1. Annette,

      Please report it to the Fraud Division of the Unemployment Office in your state. You can report on the website.

  13. I worked part time for thee years here in florida. I’m currently not working. I’m also retired and collects social security.
    My question is
    Am I qualified to file for unemployment ?

    1. Ruby,

      To be eligible, you’re required to have sufficient hours and earnings. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website.

  14. So adjudication takes 8 to 12 weeks. Oh okay, that explains why I havent received payment since July. That surely helps just like the rest of the information that you give. And by the way. What’s the NEW reason you can’t get through to the Call Center.

    1. Maria,
      I have gotten through to the call center (live agent) every time i’ve tried calling within the last 2 weeks. The number to a live agent (follow the prompts carefully) is (667)-207-6520. i have gotten through within 10 to 15 mins with each call i had made!

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