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How the CARES Act Affected Warehouse Staffing in St. Louis

September 30, 2020

Intended to help people whose livelihoods were affected by the current pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided weekly checks from the federal government of $600 to people who weren’t able to work or lost their jobs. When combined with state unemployment benefits, in many cases, people made more money staying at home rather than working. The effects of this were felt across the country, and here in St. Louis by many industries, including warehouse staffing.

Simply put, people who earned more in the COVID-19 stimulus benefits by staying at home were unlikely to return to work. This had catastrophic effects on small businesses and the supply chain, who rely on workers to keep their businesses running. Of course, these government benefits were absolutely necessary in many cases, with families relying on them to supplement lost income. But they also created a bigger problem that threatened businesses and caused a long backlog of orders and a lack of qualified employees in the logistics and production fields.

How Warehouse Staffing is Affected

On the one hand, many industries in the supply chain have benefited from the pandemic, as online shopping increased tenfold. We all struggled to find ample supplies of toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies starting in March, 2020. Now the list of hard to find items is longer – paper towels, Lysol and disinfecting wipes, bicycles, laptops, canning jars, yeast and baking powder, swimming pools, appliances, children’s desks, coins, and aluminum cans are all in low supply across the country. This high-demand trickles down to warehouse staffing.

On the other hand, that supply chain is broken because warehouse workers opted to receive COVID benefits rather than working, which in turn caused a shortage of qualified employees. We all depend on the production and logistics industries for most of what we consume and the light industrial industry was severely impacted by this shortage. A perfect storm was created when these types of companies were declared “essential” as their workers were paid more by the CARES Act incentives to stay home. This, combined with the increased need for more warehouse workers, severely affected the supply chain. The lack of qualified warehouse talent challenged the entire supply chain to keep their business moving while demand for product grew.

How Action Logistix is Coping

At Action Logistix, Co-Owners Josh Browell and Barbara Bartelsmeyer “doubled down” and hired additional staffing managers to serve the light industrial and logistics companies in the Greater St. Louis area. While there were challenges to find qualified, high caliber warehouse talent, the recruiting team came together and made it happen. Our owner Josh Browell had this to say, “The biggest reason is the team we have put together. Our employees care about our customers, and they are working hard to meet the staffing needs of our clients.”

We are but one part of the supply chain ecosystem, and we are doing everything in our power to help our clients keep their supply chains open.

What the Future Holds

As the country adjusts to the long-term presence of COVID-19, it appears that there is no slowdown of online shopping, and warehouse workers may be in even higher demand. The federal government’s weekly boost of $600 on top of extended unemployment benefits has ended, but now there’s another conundrum. What impact will the influenza season have on the supply chain and the workforce, especially if there is a coronavirus flare-up? Only time will tell, but we are prepared to face these issues head-on while continuing to supply highly trained, high caliber warehouse workers to our clients.

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