Employment growth and wages in e-commerce

| December 2018

Online shopping can make gift giving easier. That’s thanks, in part, to the hundreds of thousands of e-commerce workers who help to fill orders—not just during the holidays, but year round.

E-commerce workers are employed in the electronic shopping and mail-order houses industry. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of those workers is growing: From December 1997 to December 2016, employment in electronic shopping and mail-order houses increased by nearly 80 percent. (See chart.) BLS projects that employment in this industry will continue to rise, reaching almost 450,000 jobs by 2026.

Which occupations are expected to add jobs in the industry in the coming decade? Employment is projected to increase in occupations that have tasks such as taking and filling orders, packing boxes, and creating websites. As the table shows, customer service representatives is the occupation expected to have more new jobs than any other through 2026 in electronic shopping and mail-order houses.

Table.

Wages and typical entry-level education requirements for these occupations vary. For example, applications software developers had the highest median wage in the industry among the occupations shown: $99,260, more than twice the $37,690 median wage for all workers in 2017; in contrast, retail sales workers made $24,280 annually at the median, well below the median wage for all workers. Entry-level requirements for occupations in the table range from a bachelor’s degree to no formal educational credential.

These data do not include self-employed workers. But data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that the number of businesses with no paid employees nearly doubled in the electronic shopping and mail-order houses industry over a decade, from 77,022 establishments in 2006 to 150,595 in 2016. Most of these establishments were self-employed people operating small, unincorporated businesses.

Industry employment data from 1997 to 2016 are from the BLS Current Employment Statistics program. Industry and occupational projections data are from the BLS Employment Projections program.

You can learn more about the occupations mentioned here, as well as hundreds of others, in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH).

For the latest Nonemployer Statistics, visit the U.S. Census Bureau website.

Elka Torpey is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. She can be reached at torpey.elka@bls.gov.

Suggested citation:

Elka Torpey, "Employment growth and wages in e-commerce," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2018.

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