“There are a lot of people doing traditional warehouse work, but that will change,” says John Husing, chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. “Everything is being automated.”
By Natalie Kitroeff
Dec. 4, 2016
When Skechers started building a colossal distribution center in Moreno Valley six years ago, backers promised a wave of new jobs.
Instead, by the time the company moved to the Moreno Valley, it had closed five facilities in Ontario that employed 1,200 people and cut its workforce by more than half. Today, spotting a human on the premises can feel like an accomplishment.
There are now only about 550 people working at one cavernous warehouse, which is about as big as two Staples Centers combined. Many of them sit behind computer screens, monitoring the activities of the facility’s true workhorses: robotic machines.
A worker checks on orders that are retrieved from the automated Skechers warehouse in Moreno Valley, Calif. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
It’s a sign of things to come.
In the last five years, online shopping has produced tens of thousands of new warehouse jobs in California, many of them in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The bulk of them paid blue collar people decent wages to do menial tasks – putting things in boxes and sending them out to the world.
But automated machines and software have been taking up more and more space in the region’s warehouses, and taking over jobs that were once done by humans. Today, fewer jobs are being added, though some of them pay more.
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