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Top National Workforce Trends for Distribution Centers

by Josh Bays, on Mar 19, 2018 12:44:32 PM

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. 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.

Distribution workforce growth distributed throughout the country

Looking forward to the next five years, the data suggest geographic diversity in distribution occupational growth, ranging from Florida to Washington. In general, metros in the West, as well as Texas, will see the highest growth within the distribution occupational cluster. As companies expand their operations to the West, they need additional points for an efficient distribution network. However, high-growth distribution markets in the East like Allentown, Pennsylvania, and several markets in the Carolinas are also high on this list.

Top 20 metro areas for distribution talent growth 2018-2023

Metro Area 2018-2023 Projected Occupation Growth
Stockton-Lodi, CA 17.55%
Austin-Round Rock, TX 16.49%
Reno, NV 16.34%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 13.30%
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 13.22%
Richmond, VA 13.09%
Salt Lake City, UT 13.00%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 12.79%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 11.51%
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI 11.41%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 10.79%
Raleigh, NC 10.38%
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN 10.37%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 10.12%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 9.98%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 9.92%
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC 8.87%
Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA 8.36%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 8.34%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 8.23%

Overall decrease 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. Interestingly, other than a handful of markets that have seen increases for demand, everywhere else has seen a fall in average unique monthly postings. This could be indicative of a relative decrease in hiring across the board.

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

Metro Area Avg. Monthly Postings (March 2016-2017) Avg. Monthly Postings (March 2017-2018) One Year Change
Madison, WI 192 253 31.96%
Reno, NV 209 228 8.88%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 1293 1369 5.91%
Birmingham-Hoover, AL 221 231 4.75%
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 275 279 1.39%
St. Louis, MO-IL 630 636 0.97%
Jacksonville, FL 320 323 0.91%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 1033 1020 -1.26%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 670 659 -1.64%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 2937 2876 -2.10%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 819 801 -2.14%
Austin-Round Rock, TX 341 331 -2.93%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 883 857 -3.02%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 1470 1416 -3.63%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 669 640 -4.45%
York-Hanover, PA 259 247 -4.64%
Pittsburgh, PA 1043 994 -4.68%
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC 305 285 -6.46%
Columbus, OH 840 783 -6.80%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 1054 979 -7.07%

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, 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, 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 (March 2016-2017) Avg. Posting Intensity (March 2017-2018) One Year Change
Worcester, MA-CT 6.88 21.31 209.52%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 6.45 16.83 161.16%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 7.07 14.87 110.38%
Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, PA 5.99 10.69 78.50%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 5.95 10.44 75.42%
Oklahoma City, OK 5.48 8.24 50.48%
Rochester, NY 5.67 8.25 45.45%
Madison, WI 6.43 9.3 44.65%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 6.05 8.69 43.57%
York-Hanover, PA 6.41 9.14 42.55%
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 5.54 7.88 42.36%
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 6.72 9.42 40.26%
Columbus, OH 6.84 9.53 39.33%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 5.5 7.57 37.72%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 6.09 8.16 33.96%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 4.67 6.24 33.59%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 5.84 7.75 32.76%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 6.41 8.35 30.40%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 4.81 6.26 30.12%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 5.11 6.59 28.85%

Diverse analyses optimize location decision

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 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 200 average job postings from March 2017-2018 to prevent small market outliers.

Topics:Distribution CentersSite Selection GroupSite Selection

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