U.S. warehouses have added 262,000 jobs over the past five years as retailers ramp up the capacity to distribute the growing number of goods bought online by American shoppers. The Wall Street Journal calls these jobs, which largely involve "picking" items from warehouse shelves and packing them in boxes, "the biggest labor cost in most e-commerce distribution centers, and among the least automated."

The problem of creating a robot that can grip and pick up almost any object, and put it in a box, has vexed the industry: such a robot, if it replaces workers doing the same job, could cut a fifth of the cost of filling e-commerce orders, MWPVL International's Marc Wulfraat tells the WSJ. As it stands, warehouses are having trouble filling jobs amid a tight labor market and rising wage demands.

Why it matters: Such robots could help online retailers by putting a lid on wage growth, giving them an alternative to meeting demands for higher pay.

  • That is not good news for workers, though: wages have remained stagnant since the financial crash, and — should robots take more jobs in warehouses — they would both keep that cap on pay, and cut off a source of jobs for laid-off retail workers.

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Deadly Hurricane Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a downed power line electrocuted a 55-year-old in Louisiana as the storm moved into Alabama overnight.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi," it began lashing Alabama late Wednesday, per the National Hurricane Center.

43 mins ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Consumer confidence sinking Testing is a windfall.
  4. World: Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.