LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Hundreds of holiday jobs are there for the taking around here - and employers are having trouble finding people to fill them.
Major distribution companies like GSI Commerce and UPS are struggling to fill jobs to ship holiday orders.
still had 200 openings paying $8.50 per hour on four shifts this week,
three months after setting out to hire 1,000 temporary workers. The
shipping company also is offering employees $150 bonuses for referring
new hires, who also get the bonus.
GSI Commerce, an eBay
subsidiary that has handled online retail sales for other companies such
as Bath and Body Works, Burberry and Dick's Sporting Goods, has
warehouses in Louisville, the suburb of Shepherdsville and Northern
Kentucky. It needs 300 people locally and is offering attendance- and
performance-based bonuses, in addition to a $50 bonus for referrals. All
shifts are available, and pay ranges from $9.25 to $10.50 an hour.
is offering up to $12 per hour for jobs at its new Jeffersonville,
Ind., warehouse, where positions in gift wrapping, shipping, packing and
receiving are available, according to the website for Amazon's hiring
"At this point, every distribution center in the area is
hiring," said John Richie of Kelly Services, which handles recruitment
for GSI Commerce. The 300 positions that Kelly is seeking to fill for
GSI Commerce are likely to increase because of an unexpected boost in
business at the Shepherdsville warehouse.
Ethan Bates of
Brandenburg, Ky., applied Thursday at GSI Commerce and was hired to
start today. Bates said he had returned to rural Meade County after
losing his job at a granite countertop fabricating company in Alabama.
nobody can afford $6,000 countertops anymore," Bates said. He said he
has bounced around between temporary jobs but hopes the GSI Commerce
position can lead to a year-round position. "I like distribution-type
settings and I heard it was a very good place to work from some friends
that have been employees for about a decade now."
Competing for workers
UPS Worldport sorting hub at Louisville International Airport has
attracted dozens of companies to the region to be close to the facility.
Many of them, like UPS itself, are trying to fill spots to handle the
"This year it is more of a challenge than it has
been in past years," UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot said of the company's
own hiring difficulties. "The hiring pool does not seem to be as great."
may be a reflection of the number of distribution companies in the
Louisville area, rather than a surge in the local economy, Mangeot said.
have attracted so many companies to come to the area and bring jobs
here that they are competing for some of the same workers that we would
like to have out in our hub," he said.
The 1,000 seasonal jobs at
UPS are an increase of at least 200 from recent years. UPS plans to
continue hiring until Christmas or until all the spots are filled, and
end dates will vary although the seasonal positions end by year's end,
"This is probably the largest number of seasonal hires that we've ever done," he said.
has shifted more of its sorting to Louisville from other regional hubs
because he said the work is done more efficiently here. The company
expects to handle a record 527 million packages systemwide between
Thanksgiving and Christmas, a 10 percent increase from last year's
record that Mangeot said is attributable to the shift from in-store
buying to online commerce.
"About a third of all shoppers will do
their Christmas business this year online," he said. And when consumers
shop online, someone has to ship the presents.
Kelly's Richie said he agrees Louisville has more logistics jobs right now than people to fill them.
said he's trying to "find what the disconnect is, because definitely
from last year to this year there's a huge difference, yet the
unemployment rate is not very different. I mean it's lower now, but it's
not lower by a lot, so definitely the market is definitely different."
unemployment rate in the 13-county Louisville metro area was 7.5
percent in October, down 1.5 percentage points from a year earlier.
temporary nature of the jobs is a particular hurdle since some people
receiving unemployment benefits risk losing money for the period they're
working for what may be only a short-term job.
Kentucky deducts 80 percent of wages earned each week from unemployment benefits. Indiana deducts only 20 percent.
think companies have to be competitive, so I think that holistically
means offering competitive pay as well as all of the other intangibles
that individuals look for when they're looking for employment, which
means benefits, security - meaning that opportunity for year-round
employment," Richie said.
He said he believes GSI is competitive,
particularly since a "large percentage" of the temporary hires will get
year-round employment. The duration of the temporary work is flexible
because the holiday rush is followed by a returns and exchanges rush.
professor Uric Dufrene of Indiana University Southeast in New Albany,
Ind., who follows local economic trends, said the unfilled openings are
because of both an improved economy and a perception that if so many
lower-paying distribution center jobs are available, some better
opportunities might be coming.
Dufrene said the rates being
offered in the seasonal jobs he reviewed are slightly more than what
would be considered the poverty level for three-person families, which
is $19,090, if the seasonal pay is extended to a full year without
Since the recession, most of the Louisville region's job growth has been in lower-wage positions, Dufrene said.
of the issue may be that last year more people last year were piecing
together lower-paying jobs like these, or taking an extra job to pay
bills, and now don't have to, Dufrene said. But part of the issue also
is pay levels for temporary jobs having difficulty competing with
available permanent positions.
Other, better-paying jobs are
opening up in health care and transportation, according to Michael
Gritton, executive director of KentuckianaWorks, the government-financed
training and job placement agency for Louisville and its nearby
"We're working really hard to try to meet the
needs of moving and storage companies because the moving industry is
starting to see business improve and they need more drivers and crew
leaders," Gritton said, noting that those jobs pay $40,000 a year and
up. "If we could get 250 people trained by the end of April, I've got
jobs waiting for all 250."
He said suppliers for Ford Motor Co.,
which has two Louisville plants, and General Electric Co. are adding
people, in addition to ongoing needs in health care. As an example,
Gritton said health care providers have had 650 postings for nurses in
the past three months.
"The market is starting to improve, and now we're seeing employers who are demanding skills," Gritton said.