Increasing Demand for Warehouse Workers

by Josh Bays, on Oct 21, 2020 8:48:47 AM

To help our clients be certain they can meet their hiring needs, Site Selection Group, a full-service location advisory, economic incentives and corporate real estate firm, evaluates and monitors talent trends in the distribution and warehousing sector. Whether a company is hiring 200 or 2,000 employees, assessing a community’s pool of available warehouse workers is as critical as ever in identifying the optimal location for new site selection projects. Despite unprecedented investment in increased automation, distribution centers continue to be labor intensive.

Given the recent demand and upcoming holiday surge for consumer fulfillment and e-commerce, the warehouse workforce has not been as adversely affected during the pandemic as other industrial sectors. Although the full effect the pandemic will have on workforce indicators is unknown, trends are starting to show up in the data. It will be interesting to see how the facts and figures below compare in the future.

Growth of warehouse workers is occurring throughout the country

Looking forward to the next five years, the data suggest geographic diversity in distribution occupational growth. However, it is apparent that metro areas in Arizona, Nevada and Utah seem to be the beneficiaries of the “ABC” strategy folks in industrial site selection “joke” about. “ABC” has become an informal term for “Anywhere But California” while still preserving the ability to serve the population bases of Southern California and the Bay Area.  

Top 20 Metro Areas for Warehouse Worker Growth 2020-2025

Metro Area Avg. Unique Postings (March 2020 - September 2020) % Change
Salisbury, MD-DE 1,637 128.9%
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA 285 118.6%
Baton Rouge, LA 2,596 112.7%
Charleston, WV 3,040 110.5%
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH 2,365 95.5%
Clarksville, TN-KY 1,319 93.9%
Lynchburg, VA 1,069 93.1%
Pittsburgh, PA 11,980 92.6%
Fort Smith, AR-OK 1,430 91.1%
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC 1,562 88.1%
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR 2,247 87.0%
Richmond, VA 3,590 84.9%
Asheville, NC 1,729 83.1%
Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV 1,455 81.0%
Knoxville, TN 2,985 77.6%
Tulsa, OK 3,273 76.0%
Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA 1,164 75.4%
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, PA 3,018 73.9%
Winston-Salem, NC 1,889 73.5%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 4,314 73.1%

West experiencing higher posting intensity

Posting intensity, that is, the average number of times the same job will appear on different job boards, is another way to measure demand for labor. In short, if companies place their job postings on, for example, 10 boards instead of five, it indicates they are working harder to find talent – one sign of a tightening labor market. The table below shows the top 20 markets that experienced an uptick in job posting intensity since the start of the pandemic. Increases in posting intensity seemed to be higher in the western U.S.

Top 20 Most Competitive Metro Areas for Warehouse Jobs

Metro Area Avg. Posting Intensity (August 2019 - July 2020) One Year Change
Bremerton-Silverdale-Port Orchard, WA 7.6 28.0%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 7.3 30.6%
Reno, NV 7.0 63.9%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 6.9 19.1%
Stockton, CA 6.6 43.2%
Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA 6.3 10.5%
Memphis, TN-MS-AR 6.2 57.7%
San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA 6.1 43.6%
Salt Lake City, UT 6.0 21.7%
Trenton-Princeton, NJ 5.9 36.4%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA 5.9 34.5%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 5.9 18.3%
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA 5.8 45.0%
Kalamazoo-Portage, MI 5.8 10.7%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 5.7 61.3%
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 5.7 71.8%
Ann Arbor, MI 5.7 18.9%
Modesto, CA 5.6 12.0%
Fort Collins, CO 5.6 46.7%
Boulder, CO 5.6 55.1%

While the information above provides useful insight into real-time labor market conditions, it is only one part of establishing a balanced and substantive assessment of a market. Site Selection Group works with its clients to develop a balanced analysis utilizing data from many diverse sources to identify the optimal labor market for distribution centers from a macro perspective to avoid the risk of locating in a sub-optimal market.

Sources: EMSI/CareerBuilder. Average monthly postings and average posting intensity (i.e. total online postings of one particular job) for Material Moving Occupations. List filtered to include only those metro areas with at least 100 average job postings in the time frames analyzed to prevent small market outliers.

Topics:Distribution CentersEconomic IncentivesReal EstateSite Selection GroupSite SelectionLocation Advisory



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