As shopping has shifted from conventional stores to online marketplaces, many retail workers have been left in the cold, but Ms. Gaugler is coming out ahead. Sellers like Zulily, Amazon and Walmart are competing to get goods to the buyer’s doorstep as quickly as possible, giving rise to a constellation of vast warehouses that have fueled a boom for workers without college degrees and breathed new life into pockets of the country that had fallen economically behind.
Warehouses have produced hundreds of thousands of jobs since the recovery began in 2010, adding workers at four times the rate of overall job growth. A significant chunk of that growth has occurred outside large metropolitan areas, in counties that had relatively little of the picking-and-packing work until recently.
“We are at the very beginning of a rather large transformation, and the humble warehouse is the leading edge of this,” said Michael Mandel, chief economic strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington. “These fulfillment center jobs are not being created in the tech hubs that were growing before. We’ve broadened the winner’s circle.”
Video of an Amazon fulfillment center near my hometown