From industrial blue-collar to logistics services jobs: the transformation of the working-class labour markets

Authors: Nicolas Raimbault*, University of Nantes, Markus Hesse, University of Luxembourg
Topics: Economic Geography, Social Geography, Transportation Geography
Keywords: logistics, workers, labour markets, France, Germany
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 15
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


De-industrialization has created the loss of many blue-collar jobs over the last decades. More recently, digitalization is shaping also service jobs, such as couriers steered by online platforms. As a consequence of these transformations, different parts of the labour market are under pressure. By taking the logistics industries as a case of study, we believe to observe an emerging type of occupations evolving from these changes – neither industrial (manufacturing) by nature, nor in classical ways service and admin related. This type of labour includes routine manual work in distribution centres and warehouses, truck loading and driving, controlling delivery processes, doing the milk-run and bringing deliveries to the doorstep. The public perception of these logistics jobs seems highly polarized: policy makers are hoping for compensation of industrial job-losses through investment in distribution centres, while some observers point at the emergence of a new social underclass, for which the parcel carrier seems emblematic. However, little is known so far about the magnitude of logistics occupation and its recent changes; the same applies to qualitative characteristics such as salaries, the issue of control and governance, or the rationalization and intensification of work. Therefore we assess national databases of France (National Census) and Germany (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) and also different strands of the literature. By doing so, we aim to provide an overview of the nature, the functional composition and temporal development of work in logistics in these two countries.

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