Covid-19 is powering the fastest growing segment of the US jobs market

The number of delivery people in the US grew by 26% in December.
The number of delivery people in the US grew by 26% in December.
Image: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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Millions of Americans are still unemployed months into the pandemic, but there is one segment of the economy where hiring is booming.

As more people buy all sorts of items online instead of in stores or restaurants, jobs related to e-commerce and logistics have grown significantly, especially for the final delivery stage.

The number of couriers and messengers rose 26% from February to December last year, the largest gain among all the positions and industries tracked by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) according to its latest employment data. The category of warehousing and storage had the fifth-highest job growth for the same 10-month period, at 7.26%.

The courier and messenger industry was already the fastest growing job field in the US prior to the pandemic. The number of workers in the field had grown from 690,000 to 850,000, an increase of 22%, between January 2018 to January 2020, according to data from the BLS. It was the fastest rate of growth of employment in any industry over the past two years among the 88 industries with over 500,000 employees as of 2020. The pandemic helped push this number to a preliminary estimate of nearly 1.07 million.

This increase is part of a larger hiring trend among retailers and logistics companies, which grew by 73% year-over-year, according to a new job report released this week by LinkedIn.

Growing e-commerce orders likely accounted for the 2.5 million jobs being advertised at manufacturing and logistics companies, and steady growth in hiring is also expected this year, according to a new salary guide from the employment and recruiting agency Randstad US. Between January and October last year, e-commerce giant Amazon hired 427,300 employees and it ramped up during the pandemic due the influx in additional orders, according to the New York Times. FedEx and UPS also hired more than 170,000 seasonal workers.

The top positions in manufacturing and logistics currently being advertised on LinkedIn include drivers, supply chain associates, and package handlers with salary ranges of $42,000 to $56,000. The salaries for two of the most in-demand positions—warehouse managers and logistics managers—are also expected to experience some of the largest increases by up to 3.5% in order to stay competitive, according to Randstad US.