Wages rising strongly among US warehouse workers

65% of US warehouse workers are earning at least $12 per hour, up from just 26% in 2014

65% of US warehouse workers are earning at least $12 per hour, up from just 26% in 2014. Credit Prologistix & EmployBridge

As much of the logistics and supply chain struggles with very low unemployment, wages are now rising quickly across the entire sector, with warehouse workers seeing consistent raises, particularly in 2017 and 2018. It also seems that this trend is unlikely to slow down as long as the economy continues to expand and warehouse workers are in demand and looking for higher pay. Warehouse workers consistently rank pay as their number one priority according to a new survey from ProLogistix and EmployBridge.

The survey of nearly 16,000 warehouse workers found that rising wages and flexible working procedures are going to be critical in retaining a workforce for shippers across the US.  

It is the eleventh consecutive year that pay has ranked as the top priority among warehouse workers, with job security coming second. In 2017 the rate of workers earning more than $12 per hour jumped to 59% from 36% the year before, underlining the turning fortunes for employees in the sector.

"It appears from our survey findings that $12 an hour has become the bare minimum wage for warehouse workers however, we're seeing many of our clients offering more attractive wages in order to secure quality talent given the single-digit unemployment market," said Brian Devine, EmployBridge Senior Vice President and creator of the survey. "In fact, our data shows in certain markets employers are paying up to $2 more per hour to attract and retain workers during the upcoming peak season. In today's environment, keeping abreast of changing supply and demand for specific skills in your local market is essential to securing the hourly workers companies need."

The recent jumps in wages in the sector brings the majority of workers above both federal and all current state minimums, with the exception of Washington D.C.

The survey found that among workers who had moved job, 85% moved for more than $1 per hour and 27% for more than $2 per hour. Furthermore, additional rises are going to be required from shippers to cover beyond first shift. 74% of workers surveyed said that they would require at least $1 per hour more to work on another shift, with just 1% saying that they preferred to work weekend shifts, compared to 67% who prefer standard shifts. The survey found that hourly workers on average desire $1 more per hour to accept and stay on second or third shift, as compared to just $0.62 in 2011.

According to EmployBridge studies, warehouse wages began increasing in 2014 but have more room for correction. From 2002 to 2014, wages for hourly workers have risen only 5.5%, while the cost of living grew over the same period by 29%.

What’s more, the immigration environment continues to get more challenging for companies looking to hire, with H2-B visas changing to a lottery that no longer excludes former workers. With just 66,000 of these available normally, there is a scramble among businesses that is leaving many with empty posts and businesses spending higher amounts than normal to try and hire US citizen workers. Furthermore,  undocumented migrant arrivals are also reportedly down.

"We are in unchartered territory as many employers prepare for peak season and seek to secure seasonal talent," said Joanie Courtney, EmployBridge Chief Workforce Analyst. "With consumer optimism at record levels and unemployment in single-digits, employers must get aggressive and more creative in their efforts to find and maintain an adequate labor force in order to take advantage of increased consumer demands." 

According to Courtney, as employers seek to expand their applicant pools for seasonal help and beyond, they should consider implementing 20-hour work weeks or an increased number of shorter shifts that can appeal to semi-retirees, students and working parents.

"Just as employers in many other sectors are re-evaluating and relaxing their hiring criteria requirements and other policies to fill production critical positions, supply chain companies are beginning to do the same," said Devine. "This includes maintaining attendance policies that are reasonable and fair and that take into consideration the realities of hourly workers' limitations. And, given there are roughly 10.5 million U.S. workers with less than a high school diploma, we're seeing many customers revisit their education requirements and relax background screenings to secure much-needed talent."

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