Skip to content
Opinion
Conor Sen

Amazon and Walmart are Winning the Labor Market Wars

Manufacturers are facing unexpected competition from retail companies as the race to hire workers pushes up wages and benefits.

It’s probably easier than working in a factory.

It’s probably easier than working in a factory.

Source: Bloomberg

Most of the talk this year about the labor market recovery has focused on the hardest-hit industry, leisure and hospitality, and the struggles that restaurant and hotel owners have had trying to staff up. Under the radar, it’s a different industry — manufacturing — that’s having even more difficulty finding the workers it needs. And that’s what last week’s job openings report hammered home.

Despite its reputation for high wages, the manufacturing sector is falling behind on the compensation front as service companies like Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. continue to raise their pay to be competitive in a tight labor market. We're used to America losing manufacturing jobs because companies can find cheaper workers abroad, but perversely, we might begin losing more of those jobs because factory owners can't offer what service employers can.