Airline employment ticks up

The workforce at the largest U.S. airlines has grown for three straight months, according to new data released Wednesday. 

The Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics said there were 381,831 airline employees in February, compared to 378,020 in the same month last year. The increase marked the third consecutive month the number of employees was up over the same month last year, the bureau said.

The largest airline employer was Delta, which had 77,800 workers in February, a 4.2 percent increase from last year and a 72 percent increase from 2007. The second largest employer was American, which had 66,000 employees. American's figure, however, was a drop of 0.8 percent from last year and 8.9 percent from 2007.

There were 259,500 employees altogether at the top seven airlines: Delta, American, United, Continental, US Airways, Alaska and Northwest.

The largest low-fare carrier was Southwest Airlines, which had 35,357 employees this February, a 1.8 percent increase from last year and a 7.7 jump from 2007. The second largest low-cost airline was Jet Blue, which had 11,458 employees. That represented a 2.3 percent jump from last year and a 21 percent increase from 2007 for the airline.