Bureau of Labor Statistics

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.

View Chart Data

Chart 1. Employment in the electronic shopping and mail-order houses industry, December 1997–2016 and projected 2016–26
Date Actual employment Projected employment

Dec-97

212,600

Jan-98

213,200

Feb-98

213,500

Mar-98

214,400

Apr-98

214,600

May-98

216,700

Jun-98

218,200

Jul-98

221,100

Aug-98

222,800

Sep-98

223,500

Oct-98

225,500

Nov-98

225,700

Dec-98

226,600

Jan-99

221,900

Feb-99

226,900

Mar-99

226,500

Apr-99

228,500

May-99

231,000

Jun-99

233,100

Jul-99

235,900

Aug-99

238,800

Sep-99

243,800

Oct-99

247,900

Nov-99

249,300

Dec-99

251,800

Jan-00

251,800

Feb-00

256,000

Mar-00

257,000

Apr-00

258,800

May-00

258,900

Jun-00

258,900

Jul-00

256,500

Aug-00

256,000

Sep-00

257,100

Oct-00

257,800

Nov-00

259,500

Dec-00

259,000

Jan-01

258,800

Feb-01

253,400

Mar-01

256,600

Apr-01

252,900

May-01

250,000

Jun-01

246,700

Jul-01

244,300

Aug-01

239,100

Sep-01

232,400

Oct-01

224,000

Nov-01

222,100

Dec-01

217,700

Jan-02

225,900

Feb-02

229,800

Mar-02

226,000

Apr-02

224,600

May-02

224,700

Jun-02

223,700

Jul-02

222,100

Aug-02

222,100

Sep-02

222,000

Oct-02

221,300

Nov-02

222,100

Dec-02

224,000

Jan-03

221,900

Feb-03

220,500

Mar-03

218,300

Apr-03

219,000

May-03

217,700

Jun-03

217,900

Jul-03

220,300

Aug-03

218,000

Sep-03

217,900

Oct-03

217,200

Nov-03

213,500

Dec-03

215,900

Jan-04

217,900

Feb-04

221,200

Mar-04

223,600

Apr-04

224,200

May-04

229,100

Jun-04

233,300

Jul-04

232,300

Aug-04

231,800

Sep-04

231,400

Oct-04

230,300

Nov-04

230,000

Dec-04

229,400

Jan-05

231,600

Feb-05

233,300

Mar-05

236,600

Apr-05

238,800

May-05

236,300

Jun-05

237,800

Jul-05

240,500

Aug-05

242,400

Sep-05

243,700

Oct-05

243,500

Nov-05

243,400

Dec-05

242,800

Jan-06

241,200

Feb-06

238,300

Mar-06

236,100

Apr-06

236,000

May-06

236,300

Jun-06

237,000

Jul-06

234,500

Aug-06

237,400

Sep-06

240,900

Oct-06

247,000

Nov-06

250,200

Dec-06

246,200

Jan-07

247,100

Feb-07

245,300

Mar-07

245,100

Apr-07

243,200

May-07

243,600

Jun-07

243,500

Jul-07

244,900

Aug-07

246,100

Sep-07

247,300

Oct-07

249,100

Nov-07

253,000

Dec-07

255,800

Jan-08

252,500

Feb-08

255,500

Mar-08

255,500

Apr-08

256,700

May-08

256,100

Jun-08

253,100

Jul-08

252,500

Aug-08

251,800

Sep-08

251,900

Oct-08

251,000

Nov-08

250,500

Dec-08

241,400

Jan-09

252,600

Feb-09

248,800

Mar-09

246,700

Apr-09

246,200

May-09

246,200

Jun-09

245,100

Jul-09

243,400

Aug-09

243,000

Sep-09

241,800

Oct-09

241,800

Nov-09

241,700

Dec-09

241,900

Jan-10

239,900

Feb-10

243,000

Mar-10

245,300

Apr-10

247,000

May-10

246,700

Jun-10

248,300

Jul-10

248,900

Aug-10

248,700

Sep-10

251,600

Oct-10

251,800

Nov-10

248,100

Dec-10

252,500

Jan-11

254,900

Feb-11

255,700

Mar-11

257,500

Apr-11

258,600

May-11

261,700

Jun-11

262,500

Jul-11

263,300

Aug-11

265,200

Sep-11

264,500

Oct-11

267,200

Nov-11

270,400

Dec-11

270,400

Jan-12

271,200

Feb-12

272,400

Mar-12

273,700

Apr-12

273,900

May-12

275,000

Jun-12

276,100

Jul-12

277,600

Aug-12

280,400

Sep-12

280,800

Oct-12

281,500

Nov-12

283,600

Dec-12

287,000

Jan-13

288,800

Feb-13

289,100

Mar-13

289,900

Apr-13

290,500

May-13

291,800

Jun-13

292,200

Jul-13

297,000

Aug-13

299,800

Sep-13

304,800

Oct-13

308,100

Nov-13

309,200

Dec-13

312,900

Jan-14

316,200

Feb-14

318,000

Mar-14

320,400

Apr-14

324,100

May-14

323,200

Jun-14

327,300

Jul-14

328,200

Aug-14

328,400

Sep-14

329,200

Oct-14

327,300

Nov-14

328,900

Dec-14

327,100

Jan-15

329,900

Feb-15

332,700

Mar-15

333,300

Apr-15

336,400

May-15

339,800

Jun-15

342,300

Jul-15

344,400

Aug-15

346,100

Sep-15

348,400

Oct-15

353,800

Nov-15

355,900

Dec-15

355,200

Jan-16

355,700

Feb-16

356,000

Mar-16

358,700

Apr-16

359,700

May-16

361,100

Jun-16

365,800

Jul-16

369,800

Aug-16

371,200

Sep-16

370,400

Oct-16

373,200

Nov-16

375,500

Dec-16

380,100

Jan-17

-

Feb-17

-

Mar-17

-

Apr-17

-

May-17

-

Jun-17

-

Jul-17

-

Aug-17

-

Sep-17

-

Oct-17

-

Nov-17

-

Dec-17

-

Jan-18

-

Feb-18

-

Mar-18

-

Apr-18

-

May-18

-

Jun-18

-

Jul-18

-

Aug-18

-

Sep-18

-

Oct-18

-

Nov-18

-

Dec-18

-

Jan-19

-

Feb-19

-

Mar-19

-

Apr-19

-

May-19

-

Jun-19

-

Jul-19

-

Aug-19

-

Sep-19

-

Oct-19

-

Nov-19

-

Dec-19

-

Jan-20

-

Feb-20

-

Mar-20

-

Apr-20

-

May-20

-

Jun-20

-

Jul-20

-

Aug-20

-

Sep-20

-

Oct-20

-

Nov-20

-

Dec-20

-

Jan-21

-

Feb-21

-

Mar-21

-

Apr-21

-

May-21

-

Jun-21

-

Jul-21

-

Aug-21

-

Sep-21

-

Oct-21

-

Nov-21

-

Dec-21

-

Jan-22

-

Feb-22

-

Mar-22

-

Apr-22

-

May-22

-

Jun-22

-

Jul-22

-

Aug-22

-

Sep-22

-

Oct-22

-

Nov-22

-

Dec-22

-

Jan-23

-

Feb-23

-

Mar-23

-

Apr-23

-

May-23

-

Jun-23

-

Jul-23

-

Aug-23

-

Sep-23

-

Oct-23

-

Nov-23

-

Dec-23

-

Jan-24

-

Feb-24

-

Mar-24

-

Apr-24

-

May-24

-

Jun-24

-

Jul-24

-

Aug-24

-

Sep-24

-

Oct-24

-

Nov-24

-

Dec-24

-

Jan-25

-

Feb-25

-

Mar-25

-

Apr-25

-

May-25

-

Jun-25

-

Jul-25

-

Aug-25

-

Sep-25

-

Oct-25

-

Nov-25

-

Dec-25

-

Jan-26

-

Feb-26

-

Mar-26

-

Apr-26

-

May-26

-

Jun-26

-

Jul-26

-

Aug-26

-

Sep-26

-

Oct-26

-

Nov-26

-

Dec-26

447,900

Note: BLS does not project specific data for each of the interim years to the 2026 projection point. These years are expressed as a dashed straight line.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics survey (1997–2016 nonfarm wage and salary employment, seasonally adjusted) and Employment Projections program (2016–26 projected employment).

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.

View Chart Data

Table 1. Selected occupations projected to add jobs in electronic shopping and mail-order houses, 2016–26

Employment, 2016 and projected 2016–26; median annual wage, 2017; and typical entry-level education and training

Occupation Employment, 2016 New jobs, projected 2016–26 Median annual wage, 2017 Typical entry-level education On-the-job training

Customer service representatives

52,500 8,300 $30,280 High school diploma or equivalent Short-term on-the-job training

Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks

26,900 6,000 28,610 High school diploma or equivalent Short-term on-the-job training

Stock clerks and order fillers

16,500 4,700 25,880 High school diploma or equivalent Short-term on-the-job training

Retail salespersons

16,200 4,600 24,280 No formal educational credential Short-term on-the-job training

Packers and packagers, hand

15,600 4,500 24,440 No formal educational credential Short-term on-the-job training

Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand

14,600 4,200 30,330 No formal educational credential Short-term on-the-job training

Market research analysts and marketing specialists

7,700 3,200 57,110 Bachelor's degree None

Order clerks

19,600 3,100 30,140 High school diploma or equivalent Short-term on-the-job training

General and operations managers

8,100 2,300 92,800 Bachelor's degree None

Software developers, applications

4,900 2,000 99,260 Bachelor's degree None

Web developers

4,300 1,200 64,190 Associate's degree None

Light truck or delivery services drivers

3,200 900 34,180 High school diploma or equivalent Short-term on-the-job training

Note: Employment and wage data do not include self-employed workers. None of these occupations typically requires work experience in a related occupation for entry, except general and operations managers, which typically needs 5 years or more of experience.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections.

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.

About the Author

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

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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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