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BY SAYING “NO” TO LOGISTICS JOBS, GOVERNMENT SAYS “YES” TO POVERTY

By Joel Anderson | 08/30/2013 | 12:51 PM

How can the United States rebuild an eroding middle class? Logistics and supply chain activities are replacement industries for what once provided domestic manufacturing jobs.

Recent research conducted by L.A.-area economist John Husing (owner of Economics & Politics Inc.) revealed that the median wage for the logistics industry in the Inland Empire of southern California is $43,583. More than that: 28 percent of the area’s job growth between 2012 and 2013 came from the logistics industry. 

These data points come from an area that was hit hard by the “great recession” with 18 percent of households earning below the poverty level. Were it not for logistics companies moving in and providing replacement work, the 72,000 jobs in this area from this sector would not exist.

Husing’s research – coupled with Yossi Sheffi’s research cited in a previous blog – highlights the importance of the logistics industry and logistic clusters in particular as middle-class job and wealth creation machines. 

Studies conducted in Alameda County in California, in Los Angeles County, and in the state of Pennsylvania note and highlight the robust career ladders intrinsic to the logistics industry. And logistics jobs cannot be off-shored: They stay close to the end consumer and the end consumers are in the United States. 

Those opposed to logistics job creation include regulators who see freight and distribution as a public health hazard. They think this “hazard” must be suppressed, if not eliminated. 

Take, for example, the South Coast Air Quality Management District: This group’s sole mission is to eliminate pollution. It appears to me that SCAQMD’s definition ignores any consideration that poverty leads to greater pollution levels and that poverty brings with it socio-economic health hazards.

In fact, a University of Wisconsin Public Health Institute 2010 study cited socio-economic factors as four times higher than environmental factors in key determinants of public health. Yet the SCAQMD ignores this published research and proceeds down a cynical path that unemployed folks are better off than our workers who can put a roof over their head, food on the table, clothes on their backs, and provide for an education and medical care for their children.

Our industry is leading the way on MANY environmental fronts apart job creation:The supply chain and warehouse-based 3PLs in particular are tapping into solar power, using battery charged forklifts, installing skylights  and LED lighting, and finding low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuel. The response from the SCAQMD and regulators is do more, do it on our schedule and poverty be damned. 

We are at the point where SCAQMD’s programs create more poverty. While direct environmental impacts are worthy fodder for public policy discussion, the most pressing arguments should focus on the broader and more immediate issue of public health. Let’s have a full-throated debate to discover who is doing more to eliminate poverty, provide for a middle class and increase public health: People sitting behind a desk working algorithms? Or businesses engaging a trade that cannot be off-shored?

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About Joel Anderson

Joel Anderson

Joel D. Anderson is president and CEO of the International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA). Based in Des Plaines, Ill., IWLA is the 120-year-old association of the warehouse-based third-party logistics industry, with 500 members in the U.S. and Canada. Before joining IWLA, Anderson spent 28 years at the California Trucking Association, the last 13 as executive vice president and CEO. An economist by training and profession, Anderson was also a past board member of Cascade Sierra Solutions. He is a frequent speaker before supply chain industry groups.



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