US Class I Rail Headcount Tumbles

美国一级铁路人员总数

2020/01/24 00:25  Benzinga

Employment at the U.S. operations of Class I railroads fell to its lowest level in years in December 2019, according to the latest data released by the Surface Transportation Board.

Those operations employed 131,486 workers in December, an 11% drop from December 2018 and a 1.3% decline from November 2019. December's total is the lowest not only for 2019 but since January 2012, the earliest date for which FreightWaves has data available.

The headcount for train and engine employees also fell in December. The total of 54,133 is 14% lower than December 2018 and 0.92% lower than November 2019. December's total is also the lowest for the train and engine category for 2019 and since January 2012. The category of train and engine (T&E) employees tends to be sensitive to market demands for rail service. As T&E headcount levels were down, U.S. rail traffic in December slipped 9.4% to 1.9 million carloads and intermodal units, according to the Association of American Railroads.

The drop in employment levels comes amid the railroads' deployment of precision scheduled railroading (PSR), a model that seeks to streamline operations. PSR may have caused the railroads to reorganize their labor forces. The railroads also tend to lower employment levels in winter.

"Our lower headcount and work hours [in the fourth quarter] are the result of train consolidations, reducing crew starts, hours worked, overtime recrews and deadheads, along with mechanical reductions due to a smaller fleet and some optimization of certain G&A [general and administrative] functions," said Mike Upchurch, chief financial officer forKansas City Southern(NYSE: KSU), during his fourth-quarter earnings call last week.

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Data on U.S. rail employment from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also indicates a downward trend in headcount levels over the past five years. Source: SONAR Surf (EMPN.RAIL)

One question that Class I rail executives will likely be addressing is whether they plan to reduce headcount even further in 2020 as the railroads strive for additional efficiency gains under PSR. But some industry observers question whether the railroads will have enough resources and manpower available should rail volumes bounce back.

"Headcount reductions in a down volume environment have helped hold profits relatively steady by increasing margins against down revenues, but also carry the risk of coming up short on the people side of the capacity equation when volume growth inevitably returns," said Susquehanna Financial Group transportation analyst Bascome Majors in a Jan. 22 research note.

The railroads so far have sought to reassure investors that they'll have the resources available to meet any growth in rail volumes.

"Our focus is on labor cost not just headcount reduction. We've made a significant reduction in the labor costs and not just targeting heads. So we'll continue to look for ways to reduce our labor costs…as we did in this quarter and as we'll do in every quarter that we have to manage the company," said Jim Foote, CEO forCSX(NASDAQ: CSX), during his company's fourth-quarter earnings call last week.

Said Kevin Boone, CSX's chief financial officer, "We'll continue to focus on managing attrition. There's a process here where we look at every job that comes available and ask ourselves given the model whether that job is necessary. So we'll continue to evaluate those. With the lower volume, there's opportunities on the operating side that we'll find … . It's about the overtime which we saw some great success [during the] the fourth quarter. We have big targets next year to continue to drive the overtime down as well. So it's across the board on the labor savings."

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

据水陆运输委员会发布的最新数据显示,2019年12月,美国一级铁路运营的就业率降至多年来的最低水平。

这些企业在12月份雇佣了131,486名员工,比2018年12月下降了11%,比2019年11月下降了1.3%。12月份的总量不仅是2019年的最低水平,也是自2012年1月以来的最低水平,这是FreightWaves拥有数据的最早日期。

12月份,火车和发动机员工的人数也有所下降。总数为54,133人,比2018年12月下降14%,比2019年11月减少0.92%。12月份的火车和发动机类别也是2019年和2012年1月以来的最低水平。火车和发动机(T&E)雇员的类别往往对市场对铁路服务的需求很敏感。根据美国铁路协会(AssociationofAmericanRailways)的数据,随着T&E员工数量的下降,美国12月份的铁路运量下滑9.4%,至190万辆汽车和多式联运。

就业水平下降之际,铁路公司正在部署精密计划铁路(PSR),这是一种旨在精简运营的模式。PSR可能导致铁路公司重组了他们的劳动力。铁路也倾向于降低冬季的就业水平。

“我们的低人数和工作时间[第四季度]这是列车合并、减少机组人员开工、减少工时、加班费和人员伤亡的结果,也是由于车队规模较小和某些G&A优化而导致的机械减少的结果吗?[一般和行政]上周,堪萨斯城南方证券交易所(NYSE:KSU)首席财务官迈克·厄普彻奇(MikeUpChurch)在他的第四季度财报电话会议上表示。

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美国劳工统计局提供的美国铁路就业数据也显示,过去五年,美国铁路员工人数呈下降趋势。资料来源:声纳冲浪(EMPN.RAIL)

一级铁路公司高管可能要解决的一个问题是,他们是否计划在2020年进一步削减员工人数,因为铁路公司正努力在PSR下实现更多的效率提升。但一些行业观察人士质疑,如果铁路数量回升,铁路公司是否会拥有足够的资源和人力。

Susquehanna金融集团(Susquehanna Financial Group)运输分析师巴斯康在1月22日的一份研究报告中表示:“在业务量下降的环境中,裁员有助于保持相对稳定的利润,因为它增加了利润率,但也有可能在销量增长不可避免地恢复时,在产能等式的人一边出现空头。”

到目前为止,铁路公司一直试图向投资者保证,他们将有足够的资源来满足铁路运量的任何增长。

CSX首席执行官吉姆·福特(Jim Foote)在上周公司的第四季度财报电话会议上表示:“我们的重点是劳动力成本,而不仅仅是裁员。我们已经大幅降低了劳动力成本,而不仅仅是针对员工。因此,我们将继续寻找降低劳动力成本的方法--就像我们在本季度做的那样,也会像在每个季度一样,我们必须管理公司。”

CSX首席财务官凯文·布恩(KevinBoone)表示:“我们将继续专注于管理自然减员。在这个过程中,我们会审视现有的每一份工作,并考虑到这一模式是否有必要。因此,我们将继续评估这些工作。在业务量较低的情况下,我们会找到…。这是关于加班的问题,我们看到了一些巨大的成功。[在]第四节。明年我们有很大的目标来继续降低加班费。因此,这是对劳动力储蓄的全面考虑。“

S.Hermann&F.Richter摄于Pixabay

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