Chicago, Illinois is a bustling, multi-cultural city situated on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. With 77 distinct neighborhoods within the city, Chicago thrives on the diversity of its neighborhoods, and it’s ranked #83 among U.S. News’ 100 Best Places to Live. It’s a hub of activity for several major industries, including business and finance, engineering, transportation, manufacturing, and more, making the metro area a viable hub for warehousing and logistics companies. We gathered some data on the local job market in Chicago, metro statistics on job growth and employment, and did a deep-dive into several data sources to get a glimpse into the current job market in Chicago, IL for warehouse workers.
Warehouse Jobs: Roles and Responsibilities
Working in the warehouse industry can mean a number of things, as there are several distinct roles workers can hold within warehousing organizations, from management positions to picking and stocking, forklift and equipment operators, and more. In some companies, warehouse employees will hold a specific role, such as forklift operator, while in others, general laborers may contribute to a variety of responsibilities within the warehouse.
In general, warehouse workers facilitate the flow of goods through the facility by loading and unloading trucks and stocking and picking products. In a warehouse, however, there are many staffers with varying roles including:
- Pickers and packers
- Shipping and receiving clerks
- Forklift operators
- Data entry and database specialists
- Inventory managers
- Operations managers
Some warehouses are operated by companies such as retailers, while others are third-party operations that serve one or more companies. Some warehouses are also specialized, such as those offering cold storage for perishable goods that require freezing or refrigeration. A warehouse worker may be responsible for overseeing deliveries and shipments, loading and unloading trucks, operating a forklift or other machinery, and preparing documentation to verify storage and shipments.
Chicago, IL Job Market
Chicago, IL is home to 31 Fortune 500 companies and 400 corporate headquarters, according to U.S. News. While the unemployment rate is higher than the national average at 5.9%, the job market in the area is turning around, and the average annual salary among workers in Chicago ($51,600) is higher than the national average salary ($48,320). Home to many major corporations, there are several strong employment sectors in the Chicago metro area including:
- Professional and Business Services
- Education and Health Services
- Other Services
The Chicago metro area is one of the 12 largest metropolitan areas as defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and while it had one of the slowest rates of employment growth in the year-over-year period from May 2016 to May 2017, the job market did show growth of 0.7%. The largest job producer during the period was the Professional and Business Services sector. According to the BLS, “Two Chicago area supersectors lost more than 1,000 jobs since last May—manufacturing (-2,400, down 0.6 percent), and trade, transportation, and utilities (-2,700, down 0.3 percent). For the nation, both supersectors gained 0.5 percent over the year.”
Screenshot via the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
We compiled the current state of the warehouse job market in Chicago, IL using data from a variety of area sources. In total, we found 10,145 total warehouse job results in the Chicago, IL area. We also gathered some research on available jobs in Chicago with more specific job titles across the same eight data sources for the area:
- Warehouse Manager: 14,208 results
- Warehouse Specialist: 4,247 results
- Warehouse Worker: 7,290 results
- Warehouse Supervisor: 10,627 results
- Warehouse Associate: 13,134 results
- Warehouse Assistant: 4,177 results
According to an October 2016 report from Crain’s Chicago Business, warehouse vacancy in the Chicago metro area reached its lowest level in 15 years in late 2016, falling to 6.8% in Q3 2016. With a new wave of construction, the vacancy rate could creep back up, but an increase in construction also points to a prosperous warehouse industry in the region. “Emboldened by the industrial market’s years-long rally, a record 19.4 million square feet of warehouse space was under construction during the third quarter,” the report states. “The greater Chicago-area market, which includes small pockets of Indiana and Wisconsin, has about 1.35 billion square feet of existing space, as measured by Colliers.”
In all, about 45% of the construction that was underway in the last half of 2016 was speculative (being built without leases signed in advance). Eleven speculative warehouses were built during Q3 2016, with 23% of the combined 2.8 million square feet being leased before construction was completed.
Amazon plays a big role in the warehouse industry in the Chicago metro. The company leased a 856,605-square-foot warehouse to be built on Manhattan Road, making it the second-largest lease in the third quarter. Amazon was also responsible for the two largest deals in the period prior to Q3. The largest deal in Q3, however, was created by Georgia-Pacific, which leased over one million square feet for a built-to-suit project on S. Central Avenue in University Park. Overall, warehouse demand has increased in the Chicago region for 18 consecutive quarters, pointing to a strong industry in the area.
These developments are promising for the warehouse industry in Chicago, but it’s also important to evaluate other indicators of overall market health. We took a look at LoopNet.com, for instance, a commercial real estate search database, and found just 130 warehouses for sale in the Chicago, IL area. At CityFeet.com, a similar database focused on industrial space, we found just 194 properties available at the time of this writing.
Top Warehouse Employers in Chicago, IL
Chicago is a bustling city and a prominent hub for several major industries, meaning there are ample major employers with warehouse operations in the area. Here’s a look at a few of the biggest warehouse employers in Chicago.
American Litho helps companies leverage every marketing dollar by streamlining production and maximizing efficiency – achieving feats like assembling a 50-piece kit in the company warehouse, personalizing it, and shipping it in the same day. American Litho hires for roles such as production manager, equipment operators, and other warehouse roles.
Offering thousands of products to customers throughout the U.S. through its catalog and website, Winston Brands is a customer-focused organization that aims to provide customers with unique and appealing merchandise at a great value. The company’s corporate office is located in the suburbs of Chicago, and they hire for both corporate roles, such as human resources, and a variety of other needs from accounts payable and receivable to warehouse positions.
Associated Fastening Products, Inc.
An established company with a proven track record for more than 25 years, Associated Fastening Products, Inc. has capabilities ranging from machined products, to cold head fasteners, and nylon insert locknuts, as well as a garden variety of standards. The company maintains a complete warehousing team and hires for positions such as pickers and packers.
Painters USA, Inc. has been serving customers since 1976. The nation’s leading provider of commercial and industrial painting and coating services, Painters USA, Inc. hires warehouse supervisors, coordinators, and associates.
Total Airport Services (TAS) is an aviation service company that provides cargo aircraft handling, cargo warehousing, passenger aircraft ramp handling, and counter services and airport support services. The airline industry is one of Chicago’s most booming industries, and TAS hires for a variety of warehouse roles from management to general laborers.
LSC Communications is a global leader in digital and traditional print, print-related services, and office products serving the needs of publishers, merchandisers, and retailers. The company employs a range of warehouse and logistics personnel including pickers and packers, dock supervisors, and more.
Leviton provides a comprehensive range of solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial customers, from simple switches and receptacles to networking solutions and more. Leviton hires for a variety of warehouse and supply chain roles including warehouse leads, general warehouse workers, material handlers, and more.
A full-service solutions company that engineers, designs, constructs, integrates, and maintains indoor/outdoor DAS systems for a companies across verticals such as hospitals, universities, government facilities, and others, SAC Wireless hires warehouse managers, associates, and other warehouse staff in the Chicago area.
Henry Schein is the world’s largest provider of healthcare products and services for office-based dental, animal health, and medical practitioners. Warehouse and logistics opportunities range from distribution staff to case pickers, equipment coordinators, and more.
CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company aiding people on the path to better health. The company has integrated offerings across the spectrum of pharmacy care. Opportunities for warehouse workers include warehouse replenishment, operations assistants, and more.
Chicago, Illinois is a bustling metropolitan area home to dozens of companies that regularly seek qualified warehouse professionals, particularly those in the airline, healthcare, and similar industries. This short list represents only a few of the many companies operating in the Chicago metro.
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