Rail transport

Railroads cut workers as industry automates, implements cost-cutting strategies

Railroad in a manufacturing city
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 20,000 workers in the railroad industry lost jobs this past year, even as the U.S. economy continued its streak of moderate growth, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Those numbers represent the biggest round of layoffs in the sector since the Great Recession — nearly a 10% drop in rail employment, per Labor Department data. Changes in the rail industry highlight signs of "ongoing pain" in the industrial sector, threatening middle-class jobs, the Post writes.

U.S. railroad traffic and freight volume shipments slump

In this image, the camera points at train tracks.
The River Subdivision of CSX Transportation Rail Line near Saugerties, New York. Photo: Getty Images

Railroad traffic and freight volume shipments are dropping below levels seen around this same time in 2016, 2017 and 2018, data from the Association of American Railroads shows.

Why it matters: An efficiency strategy called precision scheduled railroading (PSR) could be North American railroads' "last hope for continued profit growth," Barron's magazine reports — amid concerns of global economic slowdowns, a trade war and recession across the U.S., particularly in Michigan, Hawaii, Montana, Maryland and Louisiana.