The U.S. warehousing sector lost jobs for a fourth month in October, suggesting employment in an industry that’s boomed during the pandemic may have peaked.
About 1.7 million people worked in warehousing and storage in October, a 1.1% decline from September, government figures released Friday show. The drop — at a time of the year when companies typically start to ramp up staffing ahead of the holidays — was the biggest since April 2020.
E-commerce saw a surge in hiring during the first years of the pandemic, when American consumers — confined at home, and enjoying a financial boost from stimulus checks — went on an online spending splurge. Warehouses and shipping companies struggled to add enough staff to keep up.
“The goods side of the economy was caught up in a mad scramble to secure inventories ahead of the holiday season 2021,” said Bill Adams, chief economist at Comerica Bank. “That demand is slowing because people are spending less on things and more on experiences this year.”
Amazon.com Inc., which is projecting the slowest holiday-quarter growth in its history, has abandoned dozens of existing and planned warehouses around the U.S.
Even after the recent drop, warehouse and storage employment remains well above its pre-pandemic levels. Likewise, the broader transportation and warehousing category is up by almost 13% since February 2020, although employment has flattened in the second half of the year.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.