Regardless of how this week’s big jobs report turns out, one thing seems certain: E-commerce is transforming big parts of the U.S. job market.
Consider the dramatic rise of warehouse employment over traditional brick and mortar stores. Burrowing deep into October’s data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we found that the number of warehouse jobs has risen 35 percent to 1.06 million since the start of 2015. Meanwhile, the staffs of clothing stores has remained unchanged at 1.35 million.
These numbers span the period of history often called the “Retail Apocalypse,” when thousands of stores across the country closed and dozens of merchants went bankrupt. As we saw last earnings season, companies are still working to adapt to the new environment.
At heart, the new digital model is tougher for companies. In the old days, consumers showed up at shopping centers and had to buy the products they were given — at the prices they were given.
Under the new regime, choices are limitless, and prices are visible at the tap of a screen. Managers cannot force you to buy hats in the winter and shorts in the summer. That means they have less pricing power, and thus less ability to defend profit margins.
This trend is clearly here to stay, and will keep impacting the economy and society for years into the future. We just wanted to share this chart before the monthly payrolls report because it starkly displays how the rise of e-commerce is playing out in the job market.