Tuesday, May 19, 2015

California Employment Rates Rising, Mainly Due to Temporary Jobs

4/24/15 - While California's Inland Empire suffered many of the harsh consequences that came with the housing market crash, its economy has been coming back over the past few years. The Inland Empire currently contains one of the fastest-growing job markets in the state, aided mainly by growth in the logistics sector, which involves transportation and storage of goods. While jobs have indeed been added, and unemployment rates thereby lowered, Chris Kirkham's L.A. Times article points out that this growth may not actually be the significant shift it appears to be.

As the ports have gained more use in previous years, Riverside and San Bernardino counties have joined the supply chain of international trade. Strategic locations in these counties have become “inland ports” for goods traveling throughout California and to the rest of the country. The Inland Empire, on the other hand, has plenty of affordable land, which has made it the place for warehouses, in which goods are stored until they get shipped out.

Inventory, transportation, and warehouse jobs accounted for 1 in 5 new positions created in the Inland Empire last year. Job growth is great, but these are not of the ideal type to help the average worker and the economy. Positions in this industry usually pay minimum wage, do not include health benefits, and provide no guarantee as to the number of hours an employee might expect to work in any given week. So, while employees are provided with some source of income, they lack job security and can never be fully prepared to adjust to the ever-changing demand for workers.

Temporary jobs like those in this sector have increased by 35% over the span of 5 years, growing faster than almost any other industry. While such jobs are difficult to keep, Kirkham shows that some who work quickly and efficiently are able to climb the corporate ladder and move from positions of warehouse laborer to inventory manager or sales representative. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, companies care more about precision and speed in order to cut inventory costs. This has caused warehouses to be more like short stops between the factory and the customer, rather than long-term storage spaces for goods.

The logistics industry is a necessary part of international and domestic trade. Goods need to be transported, sorted, and kept track of. The industry needs support, but so do the workers. Kirkham concludes the article with the following claim: the workforce is struggling. What changes might be made to keep the industry thriving while also helping laborers to gain some semblance of structure and continuity, rather than uncertainty and worry?

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