Supply Chain Jobs are Proving Difficult to Fill

Supply Chain Jobs

Openings for supply chain jobs are everywhere but filling these vacancies has been a challenge. Whether in the cab of a long-haul truck or on the floor of a warehouse, the supply chain continues to struggle when it comes to hiring workers. A convergence of retiring workers, a shift to remote work for many industries, and a younger generation not interested in manual labor have all impacted the labor pool. As supply chain managers work to attract and retain workers, the industry faces a constantly evolving job picture.

Logistics operators added approximately 10,000 supply chain jobs in January; however, overall employment figures declined compared to the previous year. This indicates a decrease in supply chain management positions. Although fewer jobs need to be filled, the labor shortage persists and is expected to continue for several years. Drill down, however, and you can see that today’s current labor numbers represent something of a normalizing effect. Following the hectic early days of the pandemic, logistics companies scrambled to hire more labor to keep up with the frenzy of consumer demands. E-commerce took off at unprecedented numbers, and warehousing, trucking, and logistics job numbers exploded. A dip in overall job openings followed, even as the labor shortage continued. Today, you can view the January uptick in jobs as normalization.

The overall U.S. economy added approximately 300,000 jobs in January, even though January tends to be the softest month of the year following the busy holiday season. There are indications that many companies held back on the number of seasonal, temporary labor they brought on board, which may spill over into the job growth in January.

While the warehousing sector added 5,500 jobs in January, it also unloads storage space. In the fourth quarter of 2023, companies listed for sublease 150-plus million square feet of warehouse space. Along those lines, small-parcel carriers added 2,800 jobs in January after cutting 7,500 jobs in 2023. Trucking grew by 2,400 jobs in January, again following a downturn in 2023, in this case by 31,000 jobs.

The challenges remain—attracting and retaining workers to supply chain jobs. At the higher echelons of the industry, companies can focus efforts on growing supply chain management degree programs across the country. This is educated talent eager to take on jobs in the industry. Partnering with local universities that are turning out this talent pool is a smart way to go.

But it’s the manual labor pool that is the biggest challenge. Finding qualified and enthusiastic employees at the floor level continues to confound supply chain managers. Developing specific career paths for this level of workers, offering them training and upskilling, and paying attention to their changing priorities can all help make your warehouse more attractive than the competitor down the street. Contact your veteran employees and ask them to mentor younger, newer trainees. They’re often your best sales force.

Keeping tabs on the ever-changing supply chain jobs market has become one of the biggest challenges to effective supply chain management. It’s important to recognize this and apply the resources necessary for success.