Wholesale Trade: NAICS 42

About the Wholesale Trade sector

The wholesale trade sector is part of the trade, transportation, and utilities supersector.

The Wholesale Trade sector comprises establishments engaged in wholesaling merchandise, generally without transformation, and rendering services incidental to the sale of merchandise. The merchandise described in this sector includes the outputs of agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and certain information industries, such as publishing.

The wholesaling process is an intermediate step in the distribution of merchandise. Wholesalers are organized to sell or arrange the purchase or sale of (a) goods for resale (i.e., goods sold to other wholesalers or retailers), (b) capital or durable nonconsumer goods, and (c) raw and intermediate materials and supplies used in production.

Wholesalers sell merchandise to other businesses and normally operate from a warehouse or office. These warehouses and offices are characterized by having little or no display of merchandise. In addition, neither the design nor the location of the premises is intended to solicit walk-in traffic. Wholesalers do not normally use advertising directed to the general public. Customers are generally reached initially via telephone, in-person marketing, or by specialized advertising that may include Internet and other electronic means. Follow-up orders are either vendor-initiated or client-initiated, generally based on previous sales, and typically exhibit strong ties between sellers and buyers. In fact, transactions are often conducted between wholesalers and clients that have long-standing business relationships.

North American Industry Classification System

The wholesale trade sector consists of these subsectors:

Workforce Statistics

This section provides information relating to employment and unemployment in wholesale trade. While most data are obtained from employer or establishment surveys, information on industry unemployment comes from a national survey of households. The following tables present an overview of the industry including the number of jobs, the unemployment rate of those previously employed in the industry, job openings and labor turnover, union membership and representation, gross job gains and losses, data for occupations common to the industry, and projections of occupational employment change.

Employment, Unemployment, and Openings, Hires, and Separations

Data series Back
data
Dec.
2013
Jan.
2014
Feb.
2014
Mar.
2014

Employment (in thousands)

 

Employment, all employees (seasonally adjusted)

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5,796.8 5,815.1 (P) 5,829.6 (P) 5,836.7

Employment, production and nonsupervisory employees (seasonally adjusted)

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4,676.1 4,691.3 (P) 4,704.4 (P) 4,709.8

Unemployment

 

Unemployment rate

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4.0% 4.4% 4.7% 4.6%

Job openings, hires, and separations (in thousands)

 

Job openings

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147 144 (P) 151  

Hires

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85 136 (P) 130  

Separations

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88 130 (P) 113  

Footnotes
(P) Preliminary

(Source: Current Employment Statistics, Current Population Survey, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey)

Union Membership and Representation

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data
2010 2011 2012 2013

Union membership and representation

 

Members of unions (percent of wage and salary workers)

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5.2% 4.4% 5.1% 5.0%

Represented by unions (percent of wage and salary workers)

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5.6% 4.8% 5.6% 5.7%

(Source: Current Population Survey)

Dynamic Changes in Employment

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data
3rd quarter
2012
4th quarter
2012
1st quarter
2013
2nd quarter
2013

Dynamic changes in employment (in thousands)

 

Gross job gains

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267 280 273 288

Gross job losses

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262 257 251 253

(Source: Business Employment Dynamics)

Employment by Occupation

Data series Employment,
2013

Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand

387,930

Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, except technical and scientific products

958,600

Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products

207,270

Truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer

202,000

Wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products

43,230

(Source: Occupational Employment Statistics)

Projections

For projected (future) employment estimates, see the National Employment Matrix, which includes employment estimates by industry and occupation for wholesale trade.

(Source: Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections)

Earnings and Hours

This section presents data on employee earnings and weekly hours. The latest industry averages of hourly earnings and weekly hours, as well as weekly earnings by union membership status, are shown. In addition, recent hourly and annual earnings are shown for occupations commonly found in wholesale trade. This section also contains information on the average cost of benefits paid by employers, as well as recent rates of change in wages and total compensation.

Earnings and Hours of All Employees

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data
Dec.
2013
Jan.
2014
Feb.
2014
Mar.
2014

Average hourly earnings

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$27.87 $27.95 (P) $27.94 (P) $28.01

Average weekly hours

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38.6 38.7 (P) 38.6 (P) 38.7

Footnotes
(P) Preliminary

(Source: Current Employment Statistics)

Earnings and Hours of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees

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data
Dec.
2013
Jan.
2014
Feb.
2014
Mar.
2014

Average hourly earnings

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$22.84 $23.01 (P) $23.22 (P) $23.09

Average weekly hours

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38.6 38.5 (P) 38.4 (P) 38.7

Footnotes
(P) Preliminary

(Source: Current Employment Statistics)

Union Membership and Representation

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data
Median weekly earnings
2010 2011 2012 2013

Union membership and representation

 

Full-time workers

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$777 $759 $821 $800

Members of unions

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$770 $798 $821 $840

Represented by unions

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$774 $773 $801 $826

Nonunion

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$777 $758 $823 $798

(Source: Current Population Survey)

Earnings by Occupation

Data series Wages, 2013
Hourly Annual
Median Mean Median Mean

Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand

$12.38 $13.17 $25,750 $27,390

Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, except technical and scientific products

$25.90 $31.15 $53,870 $64,790

Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products

$35.25 $41.42 $73,320 $86,140

Truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer

$18.34 $19.59 $38,150 $40,750

Wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products

$25.06 $27.37 $52,120 $56,920

(Source: Occupational Employment Statistics)

Employer Compensation Costs

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data
1st quarter
2013
2nd quarter
2013
3rd quarter
2013
4th quarter
2013

12-month percent change

 

Total compensation

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1.3% 2.1% 2.0% 3.7%

Wages and salaries

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1.0% 2.1% 1.7% 3.8%

(Source: Compensation Cost Trends)



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data
4th quarter 2013
Compensation component
($ per hour worked)
Percent of total compensation

Compensation costs

 

Total compensation

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32.31 100.0

Wages and salaries

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22.91 70.9

Total benefits

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9.40 29.1

Insurance

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2.75 8.5

Retirement

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0.99 3.1

(Source: Compensation Cost Trends)

Work-related Fatalities, Injuries, and Illnesses

This section presents data for the industry on the number of workplace fatalities and the rates of workplace injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers in wholesale trade. An injury or illness is considered to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition.

Data series 2009 2010 2011 2012

Fatalities

 

Number of fatalities

190 191 190 204

Rate of injury and illness cases per 100 full-time workers

 

Total recordable cases

3.3 3.4 3.2 3.3

Cases involving days away from work, job restriction, or transfer

2.0 2.1 1.9 1.9

Cases involving days away from work

1.1 1.1 1.1 1.1

Cases involving days of job transfer or restriction

0.9 1.0 0.9 0.9

Blank cells indicate no data reported or data that do not meet publication criteria.

(Source: Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities)

Prices

This section provides industry-specific pricing information. The producer price index measures the percentage change in prices that domestic producers receive for goods and services. The prices included in the producer price index are from the first commercial transaction.

Data series Back
data
Dec.
2013
Jan.
2014
Feb.
2014
Mar.
2014

Producer price index

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(P) 125.6 (P) 126.7 (P) 126.4 (P) 127.5

Percent change from previous month

  (P) -1.1% (P) 0.9% (P) -0.2% (P) 0.9%

Footnotes
(P) Preliminary

(Source: Producer Price Indexes)

Workplace Trends

This section presents data on the number of establishments and the number of establishments experiencing job gains or job losses in wholesale trade. Also included in this section is information on productivity, presented as the rate of change in output per hour of workers in the industry.

Establishments

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data
4th quarter
2012
1st quarter
2013
2nd quarter
2013
3rd quarter
2013

Number of establishments

 

Private industry

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618,260 (P) 617,160 (P) 620,272 (P) 623,443

Local government

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37 (P) 39 (P) 39 (P) 38

State government

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2 (P) 1 (P) 2 (P) 2

Federal government

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Establishments with changes in employment (in thousands)

 

With job gains (seasonally adjusted)

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109 107 109  

With job losses (seasonally adjusted)

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104 106 104  

Footnotes
(P) Preliminary

(Source: Business Employment Dynamics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages)

Productivity

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data
2009 2010 2011 2012

Labor productivity index, output per hour

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111.795 120.415 121.277 124.261

Percent change from previous year

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-2.4 7.7 0.7 2.5

Labor index, total labor hours

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96.898 95.271 98.255 99.628

Percent change from previous year

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-7.7 -1.7 3.1 1.4

Output index

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108.327 114.721 119.160 123.799

Percent change from previous year

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-9.9 5.9 3.9 3.9

Unit labor costs index

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112.298 107.443 108.987 109.639

Percent change from previous year

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3.0 -4.3 1.4 0.6

(Source: Productivity and Costs)

Other BLS Resources

The Editor's Desk

See industry studies in the subject matter index of The Editor's Desk (Current Edition).

Career Guide to Industries

See wholesale trade in the Career Guide to Industries.

 

Data extracted on: April 24, 2014