Realistic strategies to address the long term warehouse challenge

The labour challenge: A consistent, growing problem

While warehousing is characterised by growing overall competitive intensity and a whole host of rising customer demands, labour challenges reign supreme as the most profound challenge troubling the industry. According to the US MHI Annual Industry Report, more than half of companies surveyed rated hiring and retaining qualified workers as "extremely or very challenging."

While the issue is not a new one, it is growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reports turnover in warehousing has grown from 40% to nearly 60% over a five-year period. These difficulties are not showing signs of declining in the near future, either. Due to broad demographic shifts, the U.S. workforce is actually shrinking. The civilian labour force participation rate, a measure of the workforce, has been sliding downwards for the last 20 years, according to the BLS, due in part to lower participation for workers in their prime years, between the ages of 25 and 54. Add to that the fact that baby boomers, the second largest age group, are reaching retirement age at a rate of about 10,000 per day and that by 2030, all will be at least age 65. At the same time, Americans are having fewer children, with the birth rate hitting its lowest level in 35 years.

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