Logistics hiring slowed in May due to changes in the retail sector

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Companies on the front lines of supply chains cut hiring in May as the boom in e-commerce demand wanes and consumers shift spending from goods to services.

Trucking, warehousing and package delivery companies added a combined 32,900 jobs last month, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary employment figures the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday, up from 44,700 jobs. added in April.

The pullback came as the U.S. economy as a whole added 390,000 jobs in May, the slowest pace of growth in more than a year but still well above the job expansion before. the pandemic.

The expansion in the trucking and warehousing sectors suggests that logistics operators continue to staff up in a tight labor market as they strive to untangle supply chains.

Trucking companies added 13,300 jobs last month and increased employment by more than 70,000 jobs over the past year as operators tried to meet strong freight demand. The numbers suggest trucking companies are succeeding in recruiting efforts that include higher starting salaries and signing bonuses, said Cathy Roberson, president of research and consulting firm Logistics Trends & Insights LLC.

“I think we are seeing [owner-operator truck drivers] take jobs with big trucking companies,” Ms. Roberson said.

Parts shortages and production delays still appear to be hampering further growth. FTR Transportation Intelligence said Friday that preliminary North American orders for Class 8 heavy-duty trucks fell to 13,300 large trucks in May, down 43% from the same month last year and the highest level of orders. low since November 2021.

Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles, said demand for trucks remained strong, but automakers were holding back on adding to their long backlogs with new orders because they “are not confident they can increase production in the second half” due to shortage of parts.

Warehousing and storage companies have added 176,700 jobs over the past year, BLS figures show, including some 17,700 in May, despite a tight labor market where wages are rising rapidly and operators compete to hire and retain workers.

Amazon.co.uk Inc.,

which has driven much of the hiring and competition for workers in the logistics market, recently said it was pausing its aggressive expansion of its network of distribution centers and delivery operations.

Amid a record US hiring streak, economists are watching for signs of a possible tide reversal. The WSJ’s Anna Hirtenstein examines how rising interest rates in the face of high inflation, market sell-offs and recession risks are challenging the growth of America’s labor force. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP

Courier and courier companies, including package carriers that deliver e-commerce orders to individuals and businesses, added 1,900 jobs in May, BLS data shows, down sharply from nearly 15 000 jobs added in April.

Employment in the parcels sector has been driven by strong growth in online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic which has pushed many more parcels into distribution networks. More recently, consumers appear to be returning to stores, with major retailers including Amazon reporting that online sales growth is receding from all-time highs.

Still, that shift doesn’t trigger major shifts in logistics employment, said Nick Bunker, director of economic research for North America at Indeed.com.

“Transportation and warehousing continues to be a real strength,” Bunker said.

Write to Liz Young at [email protected]

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