Big Retailers, Delivery Firms Face Struggle to Find Holiday Workers – By LAURA STEVENS and LORETTA CHAO Updated Sept. 15, 2015 8:21 p.m. ET


E-Commerce Boom, Low Unemployment Expected to Force Increases in Starting Pay

UPS said during its most recent earnings call that it would better control holiday costs this year.

UPS said during its most recent earnings call that it would better control holiday costs this year. Photo: REUTERS

For the past two years, Amazon.com Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp.and other big retailers have been flinging up warehouses and distribution centers across the country to get their online orders to customers faster.

In the coming holiday sales season, that building spree could come back to bite them—and the companies that deliver their packages.

With the nation’s unemployment rate at a seven-year low as holiday hiring begins to pick up, some retailers and logistics contractors are already struggling to find enough seasonal workers to keep their new facilities humming. Soon, United Parcel Service Inc., FedEx Corp. and smaller regional delivery firms will be facing the same problem.

Employment agencies for retailers and logistics companies say they are having trouble finding warehouse workers to stock early holiday inventory and employees to train for work in fulfillment centers, where holiday orders will be packed and shipped.

Few could have predicted the nation’s unemployment rate would fall to 5.1%, as it did last month, amid such red-hot growth in e-commerce. As a result, retailers and delivery companies expect to have to raise starting pay in some places.

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