Logistics, Parcel Hiring Soars Ahead of Expected Holiday E-Commerce Rush

Date: Monday, December 7, 2020
Source: Wall Street Journal

Logistics hiring skyrocketed in November as transport and distribution companies staffed up on expectations for an unprecedented holiday-season rush.

Delivery, warehousing and trucking operators added a combined 131,400 jobs last month, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary employment figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as businesses restocked inventories and ramped up e-commerce capabilities to meet surging online demand.

Those fields gained nearly three times as many jobs last month as in October and accounted for more than half of the increase in payrolls reported across all employment sectors for November.

Overall, the U.S. economy gained 245,000 jobs last month as hiring slowed sharply from October’s increase of 610,000 jobs amid a surge of coronavirus cases, leading to fresh restrictions on businesses in many parts of the country. The unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9% in October.

Messenger and courier companies led November job gains in logistics with 81,900 new positions, as parcel carriers that deliver packages to homes and businesses added capacity to meet a pandemic-driven flood of online orders. It was the largest monthly increase for package delivery companies since September 1997, pushing their overall payrolls to more than 1 million for the first time.

United Parcel Service Inc. this week imposed temporary restrictions on package pickups for some big retailers during one of the busiest shipping weeks of the year. The limits suggest the delivery giant is metering volumes through its network to preserve performance as it and rival FedEx Corp. contend with unprecedented demand from homebound shoppers. E-commerce spending rose by 53% in November from the same month a year earlier, according to data from Mastercard Inc.

The e-commerce boom is also boosting employment at warehousing and storage operators, which include fulfillment centers that handle online orders. The sector added 36,800 jobs in November, its fourth straight monthly increase.

Demand for workers to drive forklifts, pick and pack orders, and handle shipping and receiving is at “historic highs,” said Greg Dyer, president of commercial staffing for Randstad US, a subsidiary of Dutch recruiting firm Randstad Holding NV. “We’re up 60% from the same time last year.”

Trucking companies also saw strong payroll gains in November, adding 12,700 jobs. Fleet payrolls are up by 43,800 positions since April, when the industry shed 92,000 jobs as lockdowns aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus shut down much of the U.S. economy. Trucking payrolls remain about 55,400 jobs below their level a year ago, according to BLS figures.


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