Add warehouse employment to the many other areas of the economy being seriously impacted by the boom in ecommerce retailing.
The issue is creating some difficulty for warehouse and fulfillment operations trying to recruit well-trained workers to meet this ever-growing demand, says the staffing agency Prologistix.
“To that end, some of the biggest names in the field now say competition has gotten so hot that it’s sometimes difficult to properly fill all the jobs they have available,” it observes.
In an effort to lure the best-trained workers in the logistics field, and as a means of dealing with falling unemployment rates, many of the biggest third-party logistics providers like FedEx and Amazon are now offering significantly higher hourly wages than they used to.
The numbers tell the story. Warehouse starting pay rose 6% from 2016 to 2017, averaging $12.15 in February, ProLogistix reported.
Hourly earnings rose only 2.8% for other jobs – representing a 3.2% lag behind warehousing. In March, there was a total of 945,200 warehouse jobs existing in the U.S., a 5.3% increase since 2016.
Because these increases outpaced wage growth for all industries, that now seems to be working in favor of logistics operations attracting new hires.
“It’s an arms race,” Prologistix points out. Reports show these issues are growing more pressing all the time, driving companies to attempt to poach workers from other employers simply because those workers tend to be well-trained and easier to bring aboard.
“As a consequence, many parts of the country are now seeing centralized mini-logistics hubs crop up as companies concentrate on building and hiring in markets where there’s already a population of trained workers,” Prologistix says.
Another issue these employers face as they try to ramp up hiring is that some workers want to be able to pursue other issues in their lives while still maintaining a job that pays well. Warehouse and other 3PL service providers need to become more flexible, Prologistix says.
To achieve this goal, Amazon recently announced it will hire about 30,000 part-timers in the next 12 months to fill additional warehouse roles. In addition, the firm will hire some 5,000 part-time customer service representatives who will work from home.
“There are lots of people who want or need a flexible job – whether they’re a military spouse, a college student, or a parent – and we’re happy to empower these talented people no matter where they happen to live,” said Tom Weiland, Amazon vice president for worldwide customer service.
“With all the increased attention on boosting logistics employment, it’s vital for companies not only to provide higher wages, but also more attractive benefits as a means of both finding and retaining top workers,” Prologistix stresses.
Supplychaindive.com also notes that industrial vacancies are at record lows in many metropolises and big box warehouses continue to be built as ecommerce drives demand for quick fulfillment.
“Given these market trends, it is no wonder materials handling conferences are over-run with automated picking vendors and other robotic solutions,” the research website says.
Although robots are becoming more widespread throughout the industry, they largely function to improve the efficiency and speed of human workers, who are still required to direct the work.
“What is happening, however, is an increase in the number of strategically located distribution centers increasing their level of automation and staff simultaneously,” says Supplychiandive.com.