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E-commerce and warehousing job growth outpacing retail job growth

E-commerce and warehousing job growth outpacing retail job growth

E-commerce has drastically changed the job market in the past decade. For the first time, warehousing jobs are growing more rapidly than retail jobs.

Whenever an industry goes through changes, so do the jobs. We’ve seen e-commerce drive changes in various industries, but for the first time, we are seeing the growth in warehousing jobs outpace the growth in retail jobs.  

Looking at the numbers-retail vs warehousing

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation and warehousing jobs continue to trend upward. So far this year, the industry has added an average 7,000 jobs per month, roughly in line with the 2016 average, the BLS reported November 3. Among the component industries, couriers and messengers (+6,000), air transportation (+4,000), and rail transportation (+300) added jobs.

In the same report, the BLS shares that the retail trade continues to lose jobs. According to the November 3 report, the retail trade peaked in January 2017 but has since lost 101,000 jobs. E-commerce sales are helping fuel this change by bringing in $394.9 billion in 2016, according to the US Department of Commerce.

Although there are fewer retail jobs available, e-commerce is not taking them away as a cursory look at the numbers might indicate. According to Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute, e-commerce is creating more jobs and with better pay. E-commerce jobs pay roughly 30 percent more than traditional retail.

The New York Times, in a July 2017 article, discussed how the growth of e-commerce is shifting retail jobs. It agrees that the jobs in e-commerce are growing at a rapid rate, but also states that most of these jobs are in larger cities.

“Online shopping accounts for only 8.4 percent of all retail sales in the United States, but it has had an outsize effect on the retail workforce. The hundreds of thousands of jobs created by new online firms have not absorbed the job losses at traditional retailers,” the article states. “At the same time, the new jobs are concentrated in a handful of large cities and tech hubs.”

The article also shows a 15-year view of job growth throughout the retail industry with e-commerce jobs rising 334 percent, retail industry overall seeing flat growth and department store jobs decreasing by 25 percent. While this looks at the retail jobs only and not warehousing jobs, it is logical to assume that supply chain needs dictate that warehousing jobs must be created to accommodate the sales made in the e-commerce jobs.

The local effect

As for On Time Logistics, e-commerce has helped us double our workforce in recent years. These changes are even affecting Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas, where we have offices.

According to Tulsa World last month, warehousing/storage employment has grown 8.1 percent in the past decade, while retail trade has only grown .2 percent.

In Northwest Arkansas, brick-and-mortar stores are starting to move towards online offerings, even if they are maintaining their physical stores. We are seeing larger retail locations close, such as at the NWA Mall in Fayetteville, where Sears is closing. They will still have other physical locations, but they are putting their effort into what will benefit the company most, which is ultimately e-commerce, according to Time, Inc.

Looking to the future

Since 2009, warehousing employment has increased by nearly 50 percent. While this change is hurting brick-and-mortar shops, it’s ultimately a good change. Since e-commerce jobs are growing rapidly and pay well, this means better pay for more workers. Skills from retail jobs can be used in most e-commerce jobs, as long as the worker is willing to adapt. As long as technology advances, there will always be new jobs replacing old ones.

Are you facing the need to adapt your business or perhaps your skillset? Our courier and last mile delivery services can help your business. We are also hiring for flexible jobs for couriers and drivers in Tulsa, Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas!

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