Update on ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retail jobs

By / 5.12.2017

This post updates our March 2017 paper on ecommerce jobs, based on the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics  (we also call this sector “advanced distribution”) . Here’s what we find:

  1. Since the last business cycle peak, December 2007, the number of ecommerce jobs is up by 397,000. These gains are being driven mainly by the growth of fulfillment centers in states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.
  2. Since December 2007, the number of brick-and-mortar retail jobs, as reported by the BLS,  is up 186,000. However, that’s a deceptive gain, because hours worked has fallen. In fact, the number of full-time equivalent jobs in brick-and-mortar retail has fallen by 76,000 since December 2007.
  3. That means the gains in ecommerce jobs far exceeds the loss in full-time equivalent  jobs in brick-and-mortar retail.
  4. At an annual rate, wage and salary payments to ecommerce workers are up by $19 billion since December 2007, measured in 2016 dollars. Wage and salary payments to brick-and-mortar retail workers are up almost $4 billion, in 2016 dollars, over the same stretch.
  5. In an upcoming piece, we do a detailed analysis of the wage difference on a local level between ecommerce (advanced distribution) and retail. Our conclusions–that ecommerce pays significantly more than bricks-and-mortar retail–remains the same.