The Amazon phenomenon continues as we watch retail digital transformation change the job market and economy, mostly for the better. July 2017 turned out to be another great month for job growth, with 209,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy. Over the past 2 months, unemployment has hit a 16 year low of 4.3%. But while overall job growth has been strong, over the past year the retail sector has lost about 7,000 jobs. This has many retailers worried that the boom of the “Amazon economy” is killing jobs. But while there are jobs being lost at brick and mortar retail stores, this isn’t taking into account the transportation and warehouse jobs that are being created.
Retail Digital Transformation Creates, Not Destroys Jobs
The digital transformation of the retail sector is likely to be creating more jobs than it is taking away. In a recent article on Marketwatch.com, D.C. Bureau Chief Steve Goldstein marked a significant turn in retail digital transformation: as many transportation and warehouse jobs were created last month as traditional retail jobs. That is a total of 900 jobs for each category. According to Goldstein, these transportation and warehouse jobs are in a category called “nonstore retailing”, which has added a total of 28,000 jobs over the past year.
Digital Transformation in the Retail Sector Offers Better Earnings for Workers
This digital transformation in the retail sector is great news for customers, retailers and workers alike. In the article As Amazon Booms, Retail Jobs Shift, economic strategist Michael Mandel reports that not only have e-commerce retailers created 400,000 jobs since 2007, but workers in these positions earn 31% more than they would from in-store retail jobs in the same geographic area. What’s more, these jobs are more likely to offer full-time hours and benefits. Amazon currently has 385,000 employees in the United States. 125,00 of those employees work at their fulfillment centers in transportation and warehouse positions. For now, the retail digital transformation seems to be holding, which was evident with Amazon’s recent nationwide job fair held on August 2, where they planned on hiring 50,000 more employees.
That’s not to say that the digital transformation of the retail sector doesn’t come with its challenges. One of these challenges is that these transportation and warehouse jobs require skills that many in-store retail workers don’t have. Many of them are physically demanding, and require technical skills and familiarity with the latest software programs. E-commerce and brick and mortar retail are starting to intertwine, with shoppers finding items in the store that need to be ordered online (or vice versa). As a result, in-store retail jobs are beginning to require more technical skills as well.
To see the most success with this retail digital transformation, workers should focus on keeping their skills up to date with the latest trends, and employers should invest in continued education and training to develop the skills of their workers. Amazon seems to be on the right track, offering tuition reimbursement for degrees that lead to high paying jobs, and more and more companies seem to be following suit. An educated staff is a staff that can grow with the changes in the company. Another bonus for workers at these e-commerce companies is they can earn a degree that will lead to further success in their current position, as well as an even better career in the future if they choose to move on from their current role to bigger and better things.
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Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.