April 19, 2015


Inland Empire sees surge in warehouse jobs, but many are low-pay, temporary (CHRIS KIRKHAM, 4/18/15, LA Times)

Pilar Guzman has worked for five years in a warehouse that processes luggage arriving from China and bound for the likes of Wal-Mart, Macy's and Kohl's.

She's made minimum wage for the entire stint and arrives each day not knowing whether she'll get called into work the next. One recent day, she taped 12,000 cardboard boxes.

"The work is very repetitive, and people tend to get hurt," she said in Spanish through a translator.

Guzman is on the front lines of the fastest-growing industry in one of the fastest-growing job markets in California: the Inland Empire. Once the poster child for the woes of the housing crash, the eastern spoke of the Los Angeles metro area has rebounded swiftly over the last two years.

The fastest-growing sector has been the logistics industry -- the truck drivers, inventory managers and warehouse workers serving an increasingly global and digital economy.

The sector created 1 in 5 jobs in the Inland Empire last year. That figure doesn't include the huge proportion of warehouse workers supplied by temporary employment agencies, which typically offer less job security and fewer benefits.

Other workers, like Guzman, are employed by contractors who can't always offer full-time positions because of fluctuating demand from big retailers. [...]

At Pacific Mountain Logistics in Ontario, Rodrigo Espitia started out as a forklift driver about two years ago. Since then he's worked himself into a lead role at the warehouse, supervising the packaging of all outgoing goods delivered to customers.

He's gotten a raise from $12 to $14 an hour. He sees a lot of opportunities for those who work with speed and precision.

"I'm here because I don't make lots of mistakes," Espitia said as he double-checked the billing and shipping details for outgoing electronics. "You always have to be on top of everything, and make the customer happy."

Posted by at April 19, 2015 7:24 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus