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Supply Chain News: Number of Warehouse Workers Continues Significant Rise, Finally Starting to Put Upward Pressure on Wages


300,000 More Warehouse Jobs Since 2007, but Wages have Been Slow to Rise Until Recently

Feb. 27, 2017
SCDigest Editorial Staff

The demands of ecommerce fulfillment and other factors are leading to growing demand for workers in warehouse and distribution centers, in what is a powerful multi-year trend.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

Nationally, the BLS finds average hourly wage for non-supervisory in December was $16.08. That was up from $15.74 in December of 2015, for an increase of about 2.2%.

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According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 957,000 warehouse workers in January, up almost 10,000 from the December number even as the peak season for distribution activity came to an end.

Over the past year (January to January), the number of warehouse jobs in the US is up about 71,000, or 8%.

But that is simply the continuation of a multi-year trend.

In January of 2007, there were 657,000 warehouse workers, meaning there has been an increase of 300,000 warehouse jobs over that time period, or growth of about 46%.

The chart below tracks the number of US warehouse worker jobs in January of each year since 2007. It includes both supervisory and non-supervisory jobs, but the overwhelming majority are floor level employees. of course is a big force in this job creating, as it continues a rapid buildout of fulfillment and sortation centers that often create thousands of jobs each.

Mike Kilgore, president of supply chain consultancy Chainalytics, told the Wall Street Journal that jobs once went to retail stores are going to warehouses.

"All of that labor that went into moving a package from origin to destination would have been within the four walls of a logistics company," Kilgore said. "Now , that labor sits in fulfillment centers, which are inside the four walls of the retailer."


Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

It's no secret that all this demand is making it hard for companies to find and retain DC workers. At the CSCMP annual conference last Fall, a panel discussion on trends in distribution noted that workers would often leave one job in distribution for another for an increase of as little as 25 cents per hour.

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But is the supply and demand driving wages up? Certainly in some areas. For example, during the CSCMP panel discussion referenced above, Ohio State University's Steve DeNunzio said that postings for DC labor in the hot Columbus, Ohio market had started offering wages of more than $18.00 per hour.


Nationally, however, the BLS finds the average hourly wage for non-supervisory warehouse workers in December was $16.08. That was up from $15.74 in December of 2015, for an increase of about 2.2% in one year.

But wages have really not grown that much over the past decade, despite the huge surge in demand for DC workers. Average hourly wages in December of 2007 were $15.06, the BLS says, meaning wages are up only about one dollar per hour over that time, or just 6.7% over 10 years.

About one-third of that increase has happened in the past year, as noted above.

How tight is the labor market for warehouse workers right now? Are wages heading up? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below or the link above to send an email.


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