Warehousing sector employment grows by leaps and bounds

E-commerce giant Amazon is poised to roll out a service once considered impossible: next-day shipping, available to Prime members. The company is confident it can pull off the impressive feat, thanks in part to the increasing number of fulfillment centers that dot the nation's increasingly gentrified landscape.

While technology no doubt has a hand in expedited delivery services, none of it would be possible without the dramatic influx in warehousing employment - both for the company and for the industry as a whole.

90% surge in nearly two decades
Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data reviewed by Supply Chain Dive, job growth within the warehouse sector has ballooned approximately 90% since 2000. That contrasts sharply with the 12% growth for average employment in the U.S. overall - among all industries - during the corresponding period.

Andrew Flowers, an economist at Indeed, told Supply Chain Dive that warehousing is thought of as a blue collar profession, but it's so much more than that, given many in the industry have multiple responsibilities.

"Warehousing jobs do not just involve manual labor, although that is common," Flowers explained. "Warehousing workers are relatively more experienced than retail workers, for example, in moving objects, operating machinery, and with written communication."

E-commerce has fueled the uptick, and Flowers noted that in 2017, employment growth in warehousing was double that of the overall average increase in jobs for the U.S. economy.

Walmart expects to implement next-day shipping
While Amazon has certainly contributed to the industry's strength, its promise of next-day delivery has forced competitors to implement similar strategies, which could lead to even more jobs in warehousing in personnel, managerial and executive capacities. Shortly after Amazon's announcement, big-box retailer Walmart took to Twitter, with a not-so-subtle allusion to its own plans.

"One-day free shipping … without a membership fee. Now that would be ground breaking. Stay tuned," the tweet stated, as reported by Bloomberg.

Experts say Walmart's omnipresence will make the challenge achievable for the world's third-largest employer, but not without additional investment in both the company and human capital. Sanford Bernstein analyst Brandon Fletcher told Bloomberg that Walmart will likely need to build eight more distribution facilities to make same-day shipping a reality.  

With the battle over shoppers' hard-earned dollar well underway, the sky's the limit as to the warehousing sector's further expansion. Although many of the jobs within the industry are thought to be within the warehouse itself, C-suite positions require filling as well, the likes of which include executive program managers, principal product managers, solutions architects and senior development managers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Amazon is advertising many of these same positions on employment search engine websites and the company corporate homepage.

Warehousing employment has surged and will likely continue to do so thanks to competition among online and big box retailers.