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Covid-19 has more Americans working in delivery jobs than at gas stations

A FedEx truck is parked next to a UPS truck as both drivers make deliveries in downtown San Diego
Reuters/Mike Blake
Homeward bound.
By Dan Kopf
Published Last updated

Even before the arrival of Covid-19, delivery jobs were the fastest growing in the US. The pandemic sent that trend into overdrive.

From February to July, the number of people working as “couriers and messengers” jumped from less than 850,000 to almost 920,000, an increase of over 8%. At the same time, overall jobs in the US economy fell by 8%. With fewer people people commuting to work or visiting stores, jobs at gasoline stations also fell 4% over this period. This means July was the first time on record that more people worked in delivery than at gas stations, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The US government defines the “courier and messenger” industry as companies involved in picking up and delivering goods that can be held by an individual without special equipment. A large share of the people in this sector work for shipping companies like Fedex and DHL, and a growing number do last-mile delivery for Amazon fulfillment centers. The job category does not include people working for the US Postal Service.

The rise in delivery jobs is part of a broader boom in logistics jobs that support e-commerce. Positions in warehousing are one of the few other job types to hold steady during the pandemic. At the same time, jobs in brick-and-mortar stores have fallen by about 6%.

This story is part of a new series we’re trying, “The Thing,” in which we examine what a single chart can tell us about the global economy. 

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