Warehouse jobs increased by 50,000 this month. Are those jobs here to stay?

Justin Ho Dec 3, 2021
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Warehouse employment has been one of the fastest growing sectors of the job market since 2019. Above, workers in an Amazon fulfillment warehouse. Chris J. Ratcliffe/AFP via Getty Images

Warehouse jobs increased by 50,000 this month. Are those jobs here to stay?

Justin Ho Dec 3, 2021
Heard on:
Warehouse employment has been one of the fastest growing sectors of the job market since 2019. Above, workers in an Amazon fulfillment warehouse. Chris J. Ratcliffe/AFP via Getty Images
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One downside of today’s jobs report was the retail sector, which lost jobs in November. However, sectors that support the retail industry are adding jobs, specifically in transportation and warehousing.

That industry added 50,000 jobs in November and now employs more than 200,000 more people than before the pandemic. Do those jobs have staying power?

At the start of last month, Greg Warwick started leasing a warehouse for the baking equipment supply company he runs, TMB Baking.

Given how challenging it is to import the products he sells, he said: “We need to increase the amount of our goods available to our customers, so they can have the equipment when they need it.”

Warwick is also hiring a full-time employee to help manage the warehouse and prep items for shipment. And that position is here to stay.

“If our strategy is to take on additional space, to have more product, then we need to ensure that we can also continue to move that through,” he said.

For other companies, a lot of the transportation and warehousing jobs added last month were only seasonal hires, according to Jason Miller, a professor of supply chain management at Michigan State University. That said, warehouse employment has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the job market since 2019.

“We’re not going to see a sudden massive decline in warehousing employment once we get to the other side of the pandemic,” Miller said.

But for workers, warehousing roles tend to be physically demanding. Plus, the positions can have unpredictable hours and higher rates of injury, said Kathryn Zickuhr at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

“Even if the total number of jobs increases in these sectors, the jobs themselves might be far from stable from the workers’ perspective,” she said.

As a result, she said, the warehousing jobs may stick around, but they’re likely to have a lot of turnover.

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