The U.S. trucking industry is approaching pre-recession employment numbers. In the month of May, the U.S. economy added 280,000 jobs. According to the numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), total employment for transportation and warehousing grew by 13,100 jobs in May.

For-hire trucking companies include all sectors of trucking from local to long-haul. For-hire carriers hired 8,600 employees in May, compared with just 1,700 workers from March to April. Since March 2010, the 100,000 carriers tracked by the BLS have hired 216,700 employees. These numbers mean trucking is only 3,500 jobs from a full recovery in employment.

American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello said May’s performance was a solid jobs report and should soon translate into wage growth. Wage growth will put more pressure on carriers to raise driver pay and offer improved compensation packages, including guaranteed minimum pay.

The upswing in the trucking industry’s performance also means trucking companies will have to work harder at recruitment and retention in order to keep building payroll. As the U.S. nears what is considered full employment (5% unemployment rate), fewer people will be looking for work and competition for jobs will be fierce.

According to the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry is currently short by more than 35,000 drivers. If freight demand picks up this summer, that number will likely rise as well.