The E-Commerce Silver Lining

It is fashionable these days to complain about   online retail mowing down beloved brick-and-mortar fixtures,  causing massive layoffs and disrupting the economy.

But here's the silver lining. E-commerce transactions by definition require shipping and warehousing, and those businesses are booming.

And how about job creation? Virtually all e-commerce jobs exist beyond major urban centers (though near major highways) for the simple reason that land is cheaper there. Building an enormous warehouse off of exit 8A of the New Jersey Turnpike makes more sense than plunking one down in the middle of Brooklyn. The places hardest hit by manufacturing's decline are also the ones most attractive to e-commerce distributors.

According to the New York Times, warehouses have produced jobs at four times the rate as the rest of the economy since 2010.

And it's not just Amazon. All of the big players are erecting enormous warehouses in the hinterlands and staffing them with workers. 

And the pay is at least decent, certainly less than the old manufacturing jobs, but roughly equivalent to what can be earned in  brick-and-mortar retail.

It's not a perfect picture (it never is during transition periods), but as one area sinks, another rises up. It is the new industry's job to figure out how to make the whole thing work better for everybody.