The State of Supply Chain Labor

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The United States now has more than one job available for every unemployed person.1 A report released last month by the United States Labor Department unveiled the state of the labor market, reporting that the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September which is the lowest it’s been since December 1969. There were 134,000 jobs added throughout the month, which made September the 96th consecutive month of job growth.2

The growth won’t stop there, as the U.S. is on track to create at least 2 million new jobs for the eighth year in a row. The low unemployment rate paired with new job growth means that available jobs are outnumbered by the number of available workers. As demand for workers tightens, companies across the U.S. are under pressure to fill open positions and ensure their operations aren’t negatively impacted.3 Supply chains in particular are compelled to fill open positions at every level to keep freight moving in a strong economy.

Shortage of Supply Chain Professionals

Various industries, from manufacturing to retail, have been impacted by the severe shortage of supply chain talent. There’s an imbalance of available jobs to candidates; reports state that for every supply chain graduate, there will be up to eight jobs needed to be filled.5 Although there’s a shortage of talent in the workforce, according to Gartner, there has been a 43 percent growth in full-time students enrolled in the top 25 supply chain programs between 2014-2016. Supply chain and logistics continues to grow as a beneficial program with more than 150 schools in the U.S. that now offer an associate or bachelor’s degree in supply chain management.6

Driver Shortage and Turnover

Driver turnover averaged at 96 percent for the first half of the year, setting 2018 to possibly have the highest annual turnover rate since 2013.7 Aside from high turnover, strong freight demand and an aging workforce has caused driver shortage to be a top concern for the industry with more pressure to recruit and retain talent.8 Shippers and 3PLs are working to find solutions to the challenges of driver turnover and shortage such as improving hiring and retention processes, developing strategic solutions for asset utilization, and working with supply chain partners for additional transportation capacity.

Demand for Warehouse Workers

As ecommerce and fulfillment increase, the demand for warehousing and workers to fill those facilities is growing rapidly. CBRE expects that U.S. warehouses and distribution centers will need an additional 452,000 workers in total this year and next.9 Between this year and 2019, employers are on pace to add 226,000 workers, which is an increase from the previous annual averages of about 180,300 jobs.10 The additional employees are drawn to logistics from other industries for opportunities of growth and job security.

Although there’s uncertainty around factors impacting the logistics industry in 2019, shippers and carriers can still strive to recruit and retain talent across the entire supply chain.



  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/10/16/america-has-record-million-job-openings-making-it-an-especially-advantageous-time-ask-raise/?utm_term=.71efa4732510
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/05/business/economy/jobs-report.html
  3. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-job-openings-jump-to-record-71-million-2018-10-16
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/05/business/economy/jobs-report.html
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/oracle/2018/04/17/supply-chain-talent-shortage-whats-an-industry-to-do/#a2a57c9791da
  6. https://www.forbes.com/sites/oracle/2018/04/17/supply-chain-talent-shortage-whats-an-industry-to-do/#a2a57c9791da
  7. https://www.trucking.org/article/Turnover-at-Large-Truckload-Fleets-Hits-Highest-Level-Since-2015
  8. https://www.truckinginfo.com/317796/driver-shortage-again-top-trucking-concern
  9. https://www.wsj.com/articles/e-commerce-driving-need-for-more-warehouse-workers-1536055205
  10. https://www.wsj.com/articles/e-commerce-driving-need-for-more-warehouse-workers-1536055205?mod=djemlogistics_h