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E-Commerce Growth Fuels Warehouse Hires in October

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Besides the $2 billion that Walmart is pumping into e-commerce over the next couple of years, the nation’s largest retailer will also shell out $200 million to build two distribution centers in Florida, dedicated solely to shipping online orders—and the behemoth isn’t the only one investing behind the scenes.

According to a jobs report released Friday by the Labor Department, warehousing and storage companies added 5,100 positions in October. By comparison, the transportation and warehousing sector as a whole shed 2,100 jobs last month, namely in trucking, rail and other shipping-related businesses.

The jump in warehouse hires comes in response to shifting consumer shopping patterns, fueled by the rise of e-commerce that’s caused the likes of FedEx and UPS to predict record levels of shipments for the upcoming holiday season.

That’s why FedEx has increased its seasonal hiring by 10 percent to 55,000, while UPS said it will take on up to 95,000 extra workers. Even Amazon has created 100,000 temporary positions across its shipping warehouses and sorting centers to deal with increased demand.

But these seasonal hires could potentially become the new normal: a Colliers International report published recently pointed out that the growth of e-tailing as well as evolving delivery methods will continue to shape the logistics sector.

“This will result in the creation of new and innovative space at the initial ‘First Mile’ level, including mega distribution centers, and the ‘Last Mile’, where there is already a proliferation of e-fulfillment distribution centers on the edge of urban areas,” said Dwight Hotchkiss, national director of industrial and president of brokerage services for Colliers.

For now, retailers are also gearing up for the season, adding 43,800 jobs in October—nearly half of which (19,500) were in clothing and accessories stores. General merchandise stores hired 11,100.

The manufacturing sector, however, experienced no growth in October. Textile mills cut 200 jobs last month, while the apparel industry recorded 100 layoffs.

The overall unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell from 5.1% to 5 percent, as 271,000 non-farm workers were added to the payroll in October.

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