Your Package Has Arrived: Transportation and Warehousing in Portland MSA

by Brandon Schrader

December 15, 2020

In 2019, the United States Postal Service delivered more than 800 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. From Black Friday and Cyber Monday to holiday shopping, Americans rely heavily on our postal system to move our purchases where they need to be. With a growing number of those sales happening online, UPS estimates a 12% to 20% increase in online sales during December 2020. To keep up with demand, businesses are hiring thousands of new employees across the country. See this article to learn more about holiday hiring trends in Oregon!

Portland is following that trend as employment in transportation and warehousing was up 1.9% from September to October 2020. In a typical year, this sector sees significant job gains between September and December with a steady decline going into the summer. But, this isn’t a normal year. Transportation and warehousing started the year by shedding more jobs than usual, suggesting COVID-19 impacted the sector as well. From December 2019 to April 2020 transportation and warehousing lost 6,300 jobs or a decline of 12.7% – a much steeper drop than what Portland saw a year ago. In 2019, there was a decline of 3,200 jobs or 7.3% during the same time period. However, since April 2020, transportation and warehousing in Portland has bucked its normal trend of slowly losing jobs until the late summer months.
Instead, transportation and warehousing outpaced the jobs recovery compared with total nonfarm employment in Portland. Total nonfarm employment has reclaimed about 40% of jobs lost due to the COVID recession while transportation and warehousing regained 65% of employment lost between December 2019 and April 2020. Two components of the transportation and warehousing industry have driven this growth: couriers and messengers as well as warehousing and storage. Both subsectors have grown by more than 30% over the year compared with October 2019! There was already a building trend towards online shopping which increases the need for warehouses and deliveries. COVID-19 appears to have accelerated that trend as more folks are buying from their couch instead of the mall. October data shows employment is up 6% in transportation and warehousing compared with 2019, and it’ll be interesting to see if the industry can surpass last year despite (or, because of) COVID-19.

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