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Making a lot more this peak (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves) It is a near-certainty the 2020 peak holiday shipping cycle will break all records for volumes. The seasonal shopping frenzy will no doubt converge with elevated e-commerce traffic as shoppers concerned about COVID-19 continue to restrict their in-store buying. What is far from certain is the availability of warehouse and distribution center labor to handle all the goods, and what it will cost warehouse operators to bring labor under their roofs for the holidays. The pandemic has scrambled the fulfillment labor omelet. Despite high levels of blue-collar unemployment that would seem to make warehouse jobs attractive, people claiming $300-$400 of weekly enhanced unemployment benefits through the end of the year, on top of their regular state benefit, may forgo the day or night shifts in favor of staying home. Fragmented and erratic school schedules caused by government measures to control the pandemic’s spread may make it difficult for parents to fully commit to warehouse timetables. Prospective workers may be concerned about contracting the virus in a warehouse. In addition, they may be reluctant to work in facilities located near areas of racial unrest. Brian Devine, division vice president of Prologistix, one of the nation’s top warehouse staffing firms, said prospective workers have cited all those issues as influencing their decisions whether to apply for warehouse work this season. The expected surge in demand, especially from e-commerce, will amplify the need for qualified labor and the pay scales required to attract them, Devine said. It will not be the trigger, he added. Another issue that might constrain labor availability is that laid-off workers living in urban areas may not want, or have the means, to travel to out-of-the-way locations where businesses often locate their warehouses because of more available land, said […]
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