Despite facing headwinds like inflation concerns and supply-chain delays, the sector covering trade, logistics/transportation and utilities should recover in 2022 all jobs lost to the pandemic, driven by hiring growth in subsectors like durable goods, couriers, and warehousing, a labor market analysis says.
One reason for that swell of employment is that consumers have been taking advantage of historically low interest rates and using their accumulated savings to make purchases ranging from online shopping to cars, appliances, and furniture, according to the “2022 U.S. Job Market Outlook” report from ThinkWhy, a vendor of cloud-based HR and talent acquisition solutions.
In recent weeks, that increased purchase rate has driven hot hiring for couriers and warehousing, a trend that should continue as long as consumers keep shopping, ThinkWhy said.
So far this year, the sector has seen annual job growth through November, adding 359,000 jobs in Transportation and Warehousing overall, including the subsectors of 92,000 added in warehousing and storage; 58,000 added in air transportation; 56,000 in couriers and messengers; 46,000 added in transit and ground passenger transportation; and 41,000 added in truck transportation.
Statistics show that trend is poised to continue, with the latest retail industry statistics indicating that shoppers are still going strong. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported this week that retail sales continued to grow in November, putting the 2021 holiday season on the home stretch for record spending despite inflation, supply chain disruptions, and Covid-19.
“Despite economic headwinds, November retail sales data confirms that consumers continue to spend, as demonstrated by a 14 percent increase in sales year-over-year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a release. “We expect demand will remain strong through December, even though consumers started holiday shopping earlier than ever this year. Despite the rise of the omicron variant, increased vaccination rates combined with retailers’ ongoing safety protocols and procedures have resulted in consumers who feel they can continue to shop safely and conveniently. We believe that holiday sales this year could grow as much as 11.5% over 2020.”
Similar sentiments came from enterprise software vendor Salesforce, which today said that traffic on its platforms showed that consumers around the globe are maintaining or increasing their early December spending compared with last year, including a 3% rise in post-cyber week digital sales in the U.S.
“Early December data confirms that holiday demand has smoothed out this year, with consumers shopping early and often,” Rob Garf, VP and GM of Retail at Salesforce, said in a release. “While a spike in digital sales never came during or after Cyber Week, retailers should be encouraged by how steady digital shopping habits and sales have been in the face of higher prices, fewer discounts, and less inventory.”
However, although labor markets overall may be on the road to recovery, that voyage could be significantly bumpier than past economic cycles. According to ThinkWhy’s report, four trends are expected to impact the jobs market next year:
Specific to logistics, the report forecasts 2022 growth of 3.1% in job gains and 3.8% in annual-median wages for transportation and material moving occupations. Both categories will be led by even higher growth rates in large metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
But other sectors may have a harder climb to recover from pandemic job losses, ThinkWhy said. The financial activities sector is leading the pack with a recovery in pocket already in 2021. Following close behind with forecasted recoveries by 2022 are the four sectors of construction; education and health; professional and business services; and trade, transportation, and utilities. Next to recover in 2023 will be the manufacturing industry, followed in 2024 by the government and information sectors. And lagging the slowest in pandemic job recovery will be the leisure and hospitality and mining and logging areas in 2025.
Editor's note: This article was revised on December 16 to include input from Salesforce.