Online Sales Growth Fuels Surge in Package-Delivery Jobs

The hiring surge at package-delivery firms pushed payrolls there to a new high in July as companies geared up to handle the continued growth in online sales.

Courier and messenger companies added 3,200 jobs last month, the fourth straight monthly increase, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its July jobs report released Friday. Total employment at delivery firms reached 669,200, up from the previous high of 668,000 in December 2016 in a sector that has benefited from shifting consumer trends toward e-commerce and away from stores.

But hiring at warehousing and storage companies fell last month, cutting 2,200 jobs from June's upwardly revised figure. Industry executives have reported difficulty in filling warehouse jobs, and the sector has added 33,500 jobs in the past year as companies including Inc. add distribution centers for online fulfillment.

Overall warehouse payrolls fell to 949,500 in July, from the June high of 951,700.

U.S. employers overall added 209,000 jobs in July, driven largely by service-sector growth. Health-care employers added 39,400 jobs, while food services and drinking places gained 53,100.

Manufacturing payrolls grew by 16,000 last month, when U.S. factory activity expanded for the 11th consecutive month, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

Trucking companies, whose business is closely tied to industrial demand, added 400 jobs in July as some carriers said they planned to boost their hiring this quarter.

Truckload carrier Schneider National Inc. plans to add 300 driver jobs, the company said in an earnings call this month. Adam Satterfield, chief financial officer at Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., said in an earnings call last week that the carrier -- which handles goods for multiple customers on each of its trucks -- expects to add "a couple of hundred employees" this quarter after increasing payrolls by 1% in the second quarter even as shipments rose more than 5%.

Logistics industry employers are already ramping up hiring in advance of the holiday season. Amazon held job fairs at sites around the country on Wednesday aimed at filling 50,000 new positions, mostly at the e-commerce giant's fulfillment and package-sorting centers.

"Demand is higher now than it was even in the peak season," said Brian Devine, senior vice president at ProLogistix, one of the largest logistics-staffing companies in the U.S.

Recruitment is especially challenging in transportation hubs such as Memphis, Indianapolis and Southern California's Inland Empire, he said. "Companies are giving significant wage-rate increases now. They're adjusting pay to match the competitiveness of the market," Mr. Devine said.

Write to Jennifer Smith at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 04, 2017 15:21 ET (19:21 GMT)