Logistics Hiring: Warehousing Up, Transportation Down
It’s difficult to put a positive spin on the May job numbers released by the Department of Labor. Labor force participation decreased for the second straight month, and just 38,000 new jobs were added, far short of the 160,000 anticipated.
However, the news isn’t all grim in the U.S. logistics sector. The “Help Wanted” signs are out for those seeking employment in the right places. While trucking companies and railroads are cutting jobs, there is a gap between increasing needs in warehousing and available applicants in the workforce, and that gap seems to grow larger every day.
In a Journal-News interview, Cheryl Brackman of Cincinnati State’s Workforce Development Center said of these logistics positions, “We can’t train people fast enough. There are more jobs than there are people.”
Reversing Some April Gains
Warehousing and transportation companies added 8,600 jobs in April after three consecutive months of losses, suggesting a rebound for trucking. The 700 jobs added was a positive step after the industry pared back payrolls by 3,000 jobs in February and March.
But truck transportation lost 2,400 jobs in May, reflecting low demand reported by trucking firms. Support activities for transportation shrank by 2,700 jobs. And the outlook for the coming months isn’t much better, with many trucking executives anticipating lower freight volumes.
Rail transportation is also coping with tough times, a result of steep declines in coal and energy shipments: 2,900 jobs gone in February; 2,800 jobs lost in March; 3,700 jobs lost in April.
At the same time, warehousing and storage companies added more than 7,500 jobs in March and April, and another 3,000 jobs in May, for a total of 15,600 additional jobs since the beginning of the year. An industry that used to be seasonal, with hiring booms during peak times, now faces year-round staffing challenges.
One Cincinnati college has opened a 22,000 square foot supply chain career development center, to help deliver more credentialed employees to a region – and an industry – in need of a skilled workforce. Jobs in the transportation and warehousing industry in the Cincinnati metropolitan area are expected to increase 6.8 percent over the next 5-6 years.