Workforce Trends of 2019 Impacting Distribution Center Site Selection Strategies

by Josh Bays, on Apr 23, 2019 3:24:37 PM

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

Distribution workforce growth occurring throughout the country

Looking forward to the next five years, the data suggest geographic diversity in distribution occupational growth, with several metros in the West seeing high growth, as well as metros in the Northeast and Southeast. As companies expand their operations to the West, they need additional points for an efficient distribution network. Several markets in Texas are also projected to see high growth.

Top 20 metro areas for distribution talent growth 2019-2024

Metro Area 2019-2024 Projected Occupation Growth
Reno, NV 15.3%
Stockton, CA 14.6%
Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX 14.1%
Salt Lake City, UT 13.3%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV 12.8%
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN 11.8%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 11.5%
Ogden-Clearfield, UT 11.2%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 10.9%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 10.3%
Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ 10.0%
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 9.8%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 9.3%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 9.1%
Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI 8.8%
Kansas City, MO-KS 8.6%
Savannah, GA 8.5%
Richmond, VA 8.3%
Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY 8.3%
Charleston-North Charleston, SC 8.0%


Overall increase in job posting activity

Job postings data reveal insights into demand for labor within material moving occupations. Site Selection Group utilizes online job postings data via EMSI and CareerBuilder to evaluate labor demand conditions within the sector. The table below shows the top 20 markets with the greatest change in demand for distribution workers over the past year. Last year, this same analysis saw a general decrease in hiring activity, but job postings have since rebounded to show high growth.

Top 20 metro areas with highest growth in material moving occupation demand

Metro Area Avg. Posting Intensity (April 2017 - March 2018) Avg. Posting Intensity (April 2018 - March 2019) One Year Change
Reno, NV 101 164 62.00%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 295 445 50.86%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 551 829 50.50%
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA 159 238 49.35%
San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA 414 611 47.63%
Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI 170 250 47.03%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 352 516 46.54%
Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ 283 410 44.83%
Cleveland-Elyria, OH 184 265 43.73%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 443 631 42.49%
York-Hanover, PA 107 152 42.46%
Columbus, OH 325 462 42.08%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 313 444 41.92%
Raleigh-Cary, NC 104 147 41.87%
Salt Lake City, UT 185 261 40.99%
Birmingham-Hoover, AL 113 159 40.80%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 124 174 40.69%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA 122 172 40.19%
Memphis, TN-MS-AR 208 291 40.02%
Oklahoma City, OK 108 150 39.53%

Northeast and Midwest 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 over the past year. Here, as with last year, increases in posting intensity are concentrated in markets in the Northeast and Midwest.

Top 20 most competitive metro areas for distribution jobs

Metro Area Avg. Posting Intensity (April 2017 - March 2018) Avg. Posting Intensity (April 2018 - March 2019) One Year Change
Raleigh-Cary, NC 4.54 5.86 29.14%
St. Louis, MO-IL 5.00 6.29 25.84%
Pittsburgh, PA 5.16 6.41 24.27%
Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT 4.34 5.39 24.18%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 5.16 6.33 22.54%
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY 4.38 5.33 21.67%
Richmond, VA 5.85 7.01 19.85%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA 4.92 5.89 19.70%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 4.86 5.81 19.58%
Greenville-Anderson, SC 4.08 4.87 19.42%
Rochester, NY 4.23 5.04 19.13%
Reno, NV 8.15 9.66 18.49%
Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA 5.36 6.35 18.49%
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 4.24 4.96 16.98%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 4.30 4.98 15.68%
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 5.71 6.59 15.48%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 4.69 5.41 15.40%
Salt Lake City, UT 5.39 6.20 15.17%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 4.96 5.70 15.02%
Columbus, OH 5.73 6.59 14.89%

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 IncentivesSite Selection GroupSite SelectionLocation Advisory



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