Lisa Katz| Crain’s Detroit Blog

It is the holiday season, and everyone is rushing around trying to get packages mailed before businesses close up for Christmas. Amazon orders are being filled and shipped, and the skies and highways are full of UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS planes and trucks delivering gifts all around the country and the world. These companies are busier now more than any other time of year.

We are all thankful for the 257,394 transportation, distribution and logistics (TDL) workers in Southeast Michigan who help get our gifts and loved ones from here to there. They are employed by transportation companies, the postal service, retailers, online retailers and many other businesses. Without these workers our children would not be home from college, cookies would not get to Grandma and our nieces and nephews would not get their toys thanks to two-day shipping. These workers are integral to nearly every facet of the economy, especially this time of year when it seems to touch us the most.

Despite our reliance on TDL, it has been one of the most overlooked occupation clusters in Michigan’s economic recovery. We all talk about the resurgence of manufacturing and exports, but TDL is the backbone on which the success of all business rests. Manufacturing would not happen without TDL workers making sure that just-in-time parts were delivered punctually. Exporting newly manufactured goods would be difficult without a dedicated TDL workforce making sure that everything is organized and shipped to the right location.

TDL is an increasingly important sector of our economy. Not only does this industry employ 11.45 percent of Southeast Michigan’s workforce, but employment in these occupations has grown by more than 7 percent (17,500 new jobs) since 2010. Growth nationwide in TDL jobs is only about 4 percent, indicating Southeast Michigan is the place to be for TDL.

While data indicate that TDL employment might be leveling off (see graph above), there have been more than 24,000 online job postings for workers in TDL in the past year with nearly 7,400 postings in the past three months alone. This indicates that employers are still looking for workers, especially during the busy season. If standard economywide posting-to-employment ratios are applied for TDL, in the next several years we could see 12,000 more people employed in TDL than there are today. It looks like TDL is going to continue to be an integral part of our growing economy, both during the holidays and year-round.

Note: This posting was prepared with research and content from Colby Spencer-Cesaro, director for research with the Workforce Intelligence Network.

Share On