North American Warehouse Worker Wage Trends

By Tom Cisewski, Principal of Supply Chain Design

Spring is my favorite time of year. In my hometown of Atlanta, April is a time of renewal, when a dormant landscape is refreshed and I set out to prepare my yard for the coming year.

April is also when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics updates its Occupational Employment Statistics by job title and location.

This year—while my colleague Priyanka Nabar and I were surveying and analyzing the new labor data for U.S. warehouse workers, to update our internal Chainalytics data set—we noticed a few things and have some key insights to share:

The national picture for warehouse workers supports the overall recent U.S. economic narrative.

  • Job growth is recovering.
    Employment rates for Freight, Stock, and Material Movers (a.k.a. Warehouse Workers) grew by 5.1% in 2014, following 6.6% growth in 2013.
  • Wage growth remains muted.
    Mean hourly wages for warehouse workers grew by 1.9% in 2014, following two years of wage inflation just under 1%.  This compares to a mean hourly wage increase for all occupations of 1.7% in 2014, 1.5% in 2013 and 1.2% in 2012.

Digging deeper reveals regional nuances.

While national wage averages for warehouse workers may show that little has changed in the last year, the picture often looks different at a local level. (See Figure 1.)

Of the top 100 metropolitan areas by employment,

  • 54% saw average hourly wages increase more than the mean 2%
  • 26% actually saw average hourly wages decrease slightly
  • 18% saw average hourly wages increase by more than 5%

Figure 1. Wage Inflation for Warehouse Workers, 2014 US Warehouse Worker Wage Inflation 2014

Top 100 U.S. markets for Warehouse Workers analyzed. Size of bubble scaled by size of market. Red markets experienced above average wage inflation (2% or more). Green markets had below average annual wage inflation of 2% or less. 

Overall, regional warehouse worker wage differences continue to follow historical patterns.

  • Hourly warehouse labor costs remain highest in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest and are lowest in the Southeast, Texas and Ohio River Valley region.

Figure 2. Mean Hourly Wage for Warehouse Workers, 20142014 Mean hourly wage for warehouse workers

Top 100 U.S. markets for Warehouse Workers analyzed. Size of bubble scaled by size of market. Color saturation notes degree to which the mean hourly wage differs from the national mean. Green indicates markets with below-average wages; Red indicates markets with above-average wages.

Fresh Data Sets Make for Better Decision Making

The BLS’s carefully updated and processed data reminds me that when doing supply chain design and re-design work, data freshness makes a huge difference in overall accuracy.

Factoring in fresh transportation rates, real estate, labor rates, and local utilities data when doing a supply chain network design analysis is really a strategic differentiator that can provide richer, more fruitful insights and bear tangible results for your organization.

At Chainalytics, we refresh our key market indicators and data as frequently as the data is published.  We have the ability to glean insights from $25 billion worth of transactional transportation data from our own Freight Market Intelligence Consortium (FMIC). Coupling this with data sourced from our strategic partner, CBRE, for real estate and industrial cost data we are able to gain the most comprehensive view of the market to conduct the best strategic supply chain network analyses for our clients.

If you need help cultivating fresh data to gain a strategic supply chain advantage, reach out to me using the form below; happy to help.

Green-thumbed Tom Cisewski is a Principal of the Supply Chain Design practice at Chainalytics. In addition to leading client engagements, Tom is responsible for advancing Chainalytics’ project delivery methodology and mentoring consulting staff within the practice.

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