2. Factory town redux
Amazon and other distribution warehouses are revitalizing debilitated U.S. communities, returning thousands of jobs lost in recent decades due to the demise of the auto, steel and other industries. But a rush to automate such work makes the same towns vulnerable anew to unemployment in the future.
Axios' Erica Pandey writes: As you see in the map above, created by my colleague Harry Stevens, e-commerce has created the new factory town.
- From Texas to Florida to Pennsylvania, warehouse jobs — paying on average $12.82 an hour, according to Indeed.com, to box and mail out stuff ordered online — are becoming the new main employment.
- "The pendulum is swinging back, bringing jobs to places that had been left behind" as manufacturing plants closed down, says Michael Mandel, chief economic strategist at the Democratic-leaning Progressive Policy Institute.
By the numbers:
- Campbellsville, Ky.: Two Amazon fulfillment centers employ about 20% of 26,000 residents.
- Ottawa, Kan.: A pair of big Walmart and American Eagle distribution centers employ 15% of its 26,000 people.
- Mount Vernon, Ill.: A Walgreens distribution center employs 9.5% of its 15,000 people.
Warehouses and distribution centers will add 452,000 workers by next year — and much of that growth will be closer to big cities, as companies invest more and more money in fast delivery, predicts CBRE, an investment and market research firm.
But, but, but ... as e-commerce and retail companies continue to invest in technologies to replace people in warehouses, thousands of these workers could eventually be out of work.
"Automation is here ... [and] there is absolutely a portion of this workforce that at some point over time is not going to be needed," says David Egan, global head of industrial and logistics research at CBRE.