My boss recently handed me an article titled “U.S. job openings at record high; qualified workers scarce.” It was released by Reuters in September. I figured since I was now writing a blog for DC Velocity on the topic of recruiting and retention, this would be a great introduction to the readers, as well as a great opportunity to point out the strength, or weakness, of our labor sector.
The information in the article was from the Labor Department and was gathered by a survey called the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or “JOLTS.”
In short, it talks about how the job market is the strongest it has been since the year 2000. Guess what sector they said the biggest shortage is in? Yep, you got it; right where this is going to hurt the most: Logistics, Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities. According to the survey, there were 70,000 more openings in this sector in July than there were in June. If you were to question this, think about Amazon.com, they are hiring 100,000 people in FY 2017 alone, and that number could grow.
If we look at the fundamentals, the Bureau of Labor Statistics latest numbers have unemployment hovering between 4.3% and 4.4% since April. Another statistic we can source is the Federal Reserve’s move to continue increasing the cost to borrow money to an estimated 2% base rate up from 0% where it was for most of the recovery from the “Great Recession.” These are all strong indicators of a robust economy, and distribution, transportation, and logistics are at the tip of the spear!
Effect on Employers and Non-Exempt
This data all adds up to a squeeze on good talent for both exempt and non-exempt employees. A recent conversation with a Director of Domestic Supply Chain Human Resources for a 15B dollar retailer tells me with their peak season in full swing, they have had to increase the average hourly rate just to get the seasonal associates they need to meet productivity goals. Another distribution and fulfillment center I have touched bases with recently has not been as lucky; they are still 200+ employees short for peak and are working on contingent plans to possibly shift volume to other centers in their network if they cannot attract the proper amount of labor. This is not a new trend. Distribution and Logistics has been on a hiring tear for the past 5 years and there is no slow-down in sight. If you haven’t prepared your executive team for an up-coming wage survey, or haven’t done one in the past two years, now is the time to get started laying the groundwork.
Effect for Employees and Exempt
As for exempt employees, there is a strong shortage of good leaders. Everyone in retail, wholesale, and finished good distribution are struggling to hire qualified applicants, especially in the fulfillment sector; transportation and parcel delivery is very much in the same boat. As fulfillment gains popularity over traditional retail, distribution centers are having to shift focus to fulfilling orders that are placed online and employers are wanting to hire people with that specific skillset.
In recent years, I personally have seen great candidates kicked out of hiring processes because they do not have experience in “fulfillment.” So, it isn’t that there are not good managers with skills on the market, but more-so that employers are wanting a candidate with a specific software, process, or piece of technology that differentiates them from others.
Summary for anyone in Distribution
To sum up the sentiment of this article, if you are a hiring manager, get ready to adjust the way you attract talent to your team. If you are a salaried employee, now is a great time to make a move because demand for your skillset is at a nearly 18-year high. And finally, wages will continue to grow for hourly labor because of the law of supply and demand so get out there and see who is paying!
Thanks for hanging with me on my first of many blogs to come in DC Velocity. If you have any suggestions for future articles or would like to contribute to the recruiting and retention blog feel free to contact me directly:
Senior Supply Chain Recruiter