Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Multi-Modal: Transportation and Warehousing in Oregon

The transportation and warehousing sector includes many modes of travel, in addition to the mail and deliveries that come to our doors. During the pandemic recession, years of gains in some types of transportation were reversed, as staying home became the norm. At the same time, the pandemic intensified what was already an increasing reliance on deliveries and the distribution system that gets them to us. As a result, this broad sector’s employment is surging, in stark contrast to the slow overall employment recovery from the pandemic recession.

By Air
Not all portions of transportation and warehousing have seen their employment soar. After adding nearly 1,700 jobs between 2013 and 2019, air transportation lost 600 (-11%) jobs through the first three quarters of 2020. The airlines classified in this subsector have struggled through the pandemic. Similarly, support services for transportation -- which includes airports -- declined by 9% between 2019 and the first three quarters of 2020.

Over the Road
For now, truck transportation remains the largest piece of the overall transportation and warehousing sector. Its employment has seen little change in recent years, but did decline by 3% to an average of 18,400 jobs between 2019 and the first three quarters of 2020.

By comparison, the transit and ground transportation subsector saw much more job movement over the years. After growing from 9,900 jobs to 12,300 (24%) between 2009 and 2019, transit and ground transportation fell to an average of 10,600 jobs (-13%) in the first three quarters of 2020.

While there was undoubtedly decline in these operations due to reduced travel, the available data can’t fully represent the trends in this industry. That’s because ride-hailing and gig-type food delivery services are not included in covered employment statistics. The nonemployer statistics related to transit and ground passenger transportation show an increase of 10,000 (or 774%) from 2009 to 2018. Nearly all that growth occurred in taxi and limousine services.

More to Your Door
Two subsectors of transportation and warehousing carry correspondence, care packages, and other deliveries door to door: couriers and messengers, and the postal service. For years, the private couriers and messengers subsector has shown a distinctive and increasing seasonal pattern. They tend to ramp up hiring in the fourth quarter, hitting an employment peak each December.

In addition to more December deliveries, couriers and messengers businesses have also been hiring to meet greater demand for online shopping and deliveries to our doors year round. From 2009 to 2019, annual average employment grew by 4,300 jobs, or 69%. The global pandemic intensified this trend. Fleets of big brown trucks, gray vans, local grocers, and their counterparts collectively added 1,500 jobs (14%) between 2019 and the first three quarters of 2020.

Warehousing and Storage
While the gray vans, brown trucks, and mail carriers give visuals in the neighborhood, they’re fueled by rapid growth in the warehousing and storage subsector. Just between 2018 and the first three quarters of 2020, employment grew by 8,200 jobs to 18,100. That’s an 82% increase and does not yet include the peak holiday delivery season for 2020. While the big, public announcements of new Amazon operations play a role here, big box stores with warehousing and storage operations have grown recently too.

Given the continued growth of e-commerce, particularly during the holidays, and the expanding presence of Amazon in Oregon and elsewhere, the 2019 to 2029 growth outlook for both couriers and messengers (22%) and warehousing and storage (27%) is strong. By comparison, Oregon’s anticipated total employment growth will be 9%.  

More information about Oregon's transportation and warehousing industry can be found in the full article.

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