Warehouse boom fuels midstate job growth

Written by Brett Sholtis | Sep 27, 2017 4:30 PM

Kinsley Properties is building a 780,000 square-foot warehouse in East Manchester Township. The company is working with broker Cushman & Wakefield to find a tenant for the property. (Photo: Jason Plotkin, York Daily Record)

(Harrisburg) -- The recent boom in warehouse construction has led to job growth in the midstate, according to a state expert on employment.

Statewide, the restaurant and hospitality industry leads job growth in Pennsylvania, with 25,000 positions created since last August, according to the most recent state Department of Labor and Industry report. The health care and education sector ranks second with 22,400 jobs. 

However in midstate counties, the trade, transportation and utilities industry has shown the greatest gains. For example, the Harrisburg-Carlisle region saw 3,600 such jobs in the past year.

Jeff Newman, a state Department of Labor & Industry analyst, says those gains are due to distribution centers setting up along major routes such as the I-81 corridor. 

Unlike restaurant work, those jobs are often full-time positions with benefits. 

"They are lower wage jobs, [ but ] they are also obviously jobs that need less formal training or experience -- unless you're a truck driver. The truck drivers are good-paying jobs."

Warehouse growth has had some worried about commercial truck traffic. York County alone has more than two dozen such centers, with one -- the ES3 warehouse -- the size of 29 football fields.

PennDOT spokesman Mike Crochunis says that the industry's growing presence has led to many projects, including a $13.6 million road widening about to begin near Exit 72-A in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County. 

PennDOT already has spent a billion dollars on the capitol beltway and about $90 million on revamping I-283, money that comes from fuel taxes and turnpike fees. 

Crochunis says the centers can stress already busy roads, but there's really no alternative.  "Where else are they going to set up but I-81? It makes sense."

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