Afternoon Coffee: Warehouse employment at all-time highs with e-commerce shift; Air IT acquires MSP Netstar; California fires, Gulf hurricanes

Numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that warehouse employment surpassed its pre-pandemic level and recorded its highest level ever, with 1.25 million workers in September, according to Supply Chain Dive.

Warehouse employment reaches this peak while e-commerce sales are higher than any previous point in history. E-commerce sales increased almost 32% from Q1 to Q2 to record nearly $212 billion, the article said. The pandemic has sped up trends around e-commerce. However, companies that were struggling continued to struggle, and businesses that recorded improvements have gotten better more quickly.

E-commerce is increasingly automating its operations with technologies like robots moving inventory and assisting pickers. However, picking, packing or shipping are still labor-intensive processes.

"E-commerce and the need for those logistics services will actually be past where they were pre-pandemic, because it's a bigger percentage of whatever [retail] does come back online," Zachary Rogers, an assistant professor in supply chain management at Colorado State University, told Supply Chain Dive.

Air IT acquires MSP Netstar to grow its managed services options and extend into London market

Air IT, an IT and communications specialist, announced that it has acquired London-based MSP Netstar, an IT managed services and support specialist.

The acquisition helps Air IT extend its market share in the managed IT marketplace and into London. In a press release announcing the acquisition, Air IT said it will enable the company to double in size in nine months and make strides toward becoming one of the UK’s largest SME-focused cloud providers.

Netstar was founded in 2002 and has a clientele of over 150 London businesses. The company has been able to grow organically, delivering at least 20% year-on-year growth in the last three years.

“I am delighted to welcome Mit Patel and the Netstar team to the Air IT group. Netstar are an extremely successful and exciting business with a very experienced and talented team,” John Whitty, the CEO of Air IT, said in the press release. “Like Air IT, they are famous for delivering award winning service to the UK SME market. This is an exciting phase for Air IT’s continued growth, and this acquisition represents a significant step towards achieving our organic and acquisitive goals and extending our regional coverage.”

Natural disasters target California and Louisiana

High winds and dry conditions have spread fires in California, and more hurricane-fueled rain and storms threaten the Louisiana coast for the fifth time this season, the Associated Press reports. 

Power companies have cut electricity to hundreds of thousands of California residents and businesses in an effort to keep the power equipment from blowing in the sustained winds and causing sparks, which have started some of the many fires in the state, the AP reports. In Southern California, residents near Irvine and Yorba Linda were evacuating. Other fires were in the Bay Area and farther north. 

Zeta, the 27th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, hit Mexico near Cancun, and Zeta is expected to target the New Orleans area after it enters the Gulf of Mexico and possibly re-forms into a hurricane. Landfall could be Wednesday, the AP reports. If it hits Louisiana, Zeta will be the fifth named storm to hit the state in 2020 — joining Cristobal, Laura, Marco and Delta, the AP reports. Each has slowed oil and gas operations in the Gulf and disrupted supply chains inland.

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