Parcel carriers and third party logistics providers (3PLs) are hitting full stride in their annual rush to hire temporary workers for the holiday peak shopping season even as the nation’s jobless claims fell this week near an 18-month low point, stoking worries that the simmering pandemic recovery could be hindered by labor shortages, since so few people are looking for work.
Specifically, statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor showed that the number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance in the week ending September 4 sank to 310,000, a decrease of 35,000 from the previous week's revised level and the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020.
Likewise, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said September 3 that the U.S. unemployment rate was 5.2% in August, down from 5.4% in July. That figure is higher than the pre-pandemic low point of 3.5% in February 2020, but still low by historical standards.
Despite that small labor pool, transportation and warehousing employers are hanging out the “for hire” sign.
DHL eCommerce Solutions said in August that it plans to hire 2,800 workers to sort parcels during the coming holiday peak season, a seasonal surge that is more than three times the amount it hired at this time in 2020.
The transport and logistics provider Geodis said last week that it plans to hire 4,200 seasonal workers to bolster its warehousing and distribution center capabilities through 2021 as online shopping continues to surge to record heights. "As our industry continues to face significant ongoing challenges such as labor shortages, skyrocketing e-commerce demand, and global shipping disruptions, we are increasing our workforce to ensure we can successfully navigate today's supply chain dynamics and support our customers through peak season,” Mike Honious, GEODIS in Americas President & CEO, said in a release.
And the U.S. Postal Service is currently hiring for more than 40,000 seasonal positions as preparations continue for the 2021 winter holidays, the agency’s peak season for mail and package deliveries, the agency said September 8.
As competition heats up for U.S. laborers, some logistics employers are sweetening the offer by dangling the possibility of permanent positions.
Parcel delivery and logistics giant UPS Inc. is hiring more than 100,000 seasonal employees to support the anticipated annual increase in package volume that will begin in October 2021 and continue through January 2022. While most of those full- and part-time jobs—primarily package handlers, drivers, driver helpers and personal vehicle drivers—may come with an expiration date, UPS said that many will last longer. Over the last three years, about one-third of people hired by UPS for seasonal package handler jobs were later hired in a permanent position when the holidays were over, the Atlanta-based company said.
In fact, just a week earlier, retail giant Walmart said it was likewise hiring 20,000 new workers across its supply chain operations, but that the jobs were permanent positions divided between full-and part-time capacities for tasks including order fillers, freight handlers, lift drivers, technicians, and management positions.