76% of Supply Chain Operations are Facing a Workforce Shortage

By Tom Morrison posted 02-29-2024 10:05 AM


Despite promising opportunities and pay, companies struggle to attract skilled supply chain employees.

The supply chain and workforce that make up the sector are constantly evolving. Labor shortages in transportation and warehousing are quick to make headlines, but job opportunities across the supply chain continue to go unfilled despite promising pay and benefits.

A study of over 1,000 industry decision-makers by Descartes found that 76% of today’s supply chain operations are experiencing notable workforce shortages, with 37% of respondents characterizing the resource shortage they face as high to extreme. 

Transportation and warehousing roles are hurting the most, with nearly 61% of leaders noting that transportation operations—labor-intensive roles that keep goods moving—are the areas suffering the most from the shortages.

While the industry struggles to attract and retain talent, ZipRecruiter’s recently released 2024 Labor Market Outlook found that the transportation and warehousing sector has added the most jobs of any sector since the pandemic and over the past decade. And within the sector, the warehousing and storage category has added the most jobs.

Specific to the transportation and warehousing sector, the fastest-growing job titles include corporate pilot, freight dispatcher, materials inspector, transportation agent, and logistics support. Top-performing markets for the sector include New York; Greater Houston area; Greater Los Angeles area; Forest Park, GA; Las Vegas; and Burlington, NC.

The report, which leverages data and insights from the ZipRecruiter marketplace to unveil industry trends across 10 industries, also found that job opportunities lie with those able to keep up with evolving job requirements. Warehousing jobs have a relatively low bar to entry, with few changes in requirements in recent years other than increased demand for tech professionals with advanced degrees.

Data from Descartes supports this idea, noting knowledge workers and managers are the hardest positions to fill. Over half (55%) of respondents are unable to fill critical knowledge worker roles like analysts, as operations become more technical.

Another analysis of the current job market by Zetwerk found that these more analytical roles offer the highest pay and are among the most coveted jobs among the supply chain workforce. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and O*Net OnLine data to analyze wages and employment across various roles in the U.S., the study found supply chain jobs with the most openings are general/operations managers, with over 35,000 job openings posted online. Purchasing managers have the highest median salary at $131,350, and logisticians have the highest 10-year projects growth rate (18%). 

The study also found a promising average median salary for supply chain jobs at $90,812, with New Jersey ($116,356), New York ($108,966), and Washington ($105,545) offering the highest average salaries. Also of note, Vermont, Wyoming, and North Dakota have the most supply chain job openings per capita.

Written by:  Amy Wunderlin, a freelance supply chain and technology writer, for Supply Chain Management Review.