New Salary Survey Highlights Shifting Demographics in the Supply Chain Industry

May 11, 2016




One of our main goals at Argentus is to keep our network informed about developments in the world of talent in Supply Chain. That starts at the granular level with information about salaries and compensation. Zooming out, it includes details about the hiring picture and skills that are in high-demand. And in the big picture, it also includes analysis of the wider demographic trends within the industry we love so much. We’re curious not just about where Supply Chain stands today, but where it’s going to be in five, ten, or fifty years.

Lucky for us, a new survey out of the U.S. last week intersects with all three angles. Published in leading trade magazine Logistics Management, Peerless Research Group’s 2016 Logistics Salary Survey features a raft of data about salaries in the industry as well as larger insights about where compensation is going, and the shifting demographics underlying an industry that’s poised for a major breakout.

The findings of the survey were far-ranging in their implications. So let’s examine some key takeaways that are relevant both to companies looking to hire and candidates looking to progress in their careers:

The Supply Chain field is Getting Younger: 

  • 43% of respondents in last year’s version of the survey were between the ages of 55-64. Now, that number is down to 28%.
  • 80% of respondents say that there’s a distinct rise in young people entering the industry.

One of the hottest topics in the world of Supply Chain is the issue of how to get young people involved in the field. It’s becoming more strategic, more interesting, and offers more value to companies than ever before, yet young people still often “fall into” the field instead of realizing its immense career potential from the get-go. So it was interesting to see these numbers in the survey. The first finding, showing a 15% drop in professionals aged 55-64, could indicate the beginning of the retirement of the baby boomer generation, an event that stands to rock the workforce and open up huge opportunity for young Supply Chain professionals – while making it harder for companies to hire. The second finding, on the other side, shows that young people are waking up to the high premium placed on skilled Supply Chain managers. Combined, these findings suggest that a solution to the so-called Supply Chain talent deficit might be on the horizon.

Compensation is Slightly Stalled, but Poised to Rise Rapidly in the Coming Years as Supply Chain Takes on More Prominence in Business:

  • According to the survey, median salaries dropped slightly from $95,000 to $90,000.

However, a majority of the respondents indicated that salaries are improving or keeping pace with the cost of living. One interpretation for these seemingly-contradictory findings is that, with more young people entering the field, median salaries can be expected to drop even if salary per years of experience is rising. The survey also found that managers around age 35 earning approximately $58,000 a year can expect those salaries to rise to $87,000 by the time they turn 44 – indicating a strong salary trajectory for high-skilled individuals on the junior end.

  • 78% of those surveyed indicated that the number of functions they’re performing in their job has increased in the past 2-3 years.

According to the survey, Supply Chain is becoming more integral to business, with more cross-functional responsibilities. But more than that, the study points out how public admiration for Supply Chain innovators like Amazon is finally adding some glamour to what has long been seen as a back-office function (echoing what Supply Chain guru Michael Massetti pointed out in our recent interview, by the way). These factors, combined with the overall rise of eCommerce, have respondents across the industry saying they see Supply Chain compensation as getting ready to soar. 

As More Young People Enter the Field, Companies Need to Reorient Their Hiring Strategies:

  • According to another Logistics Management article on the survey, the percentage of Supply Chain professionals under 45 has grown from 20% last year to 31% this year, which represents a huge one-year jump.

An increase in millennials entering Supply Chain aligns with the function’s increasing emphasis on digital technology. But many of these younger workers are frustrated that a lack of technological infrastructure in companies is hindering their ability to affect organizational change and grow their skills in a way that will boost their careers. This segment of the workforce also – rightly or wrongly – has a reputation for jumping from job to job. Companies need to do all they can to attract and retain Supply Chain’s brightest young stars, and this comes down to more than foosball tables or buzzwords about values: compensation, investment in technology, a commitment to corporate responsibility, and flexibility are key aspects in attracting this huge segment of the Supply Chain workforce.

Interesting stuff. For our part, we’re pleased to see that some of the major issues and trends we talk about all the time at Argentus are also borne out in Logistics Management’s survey data.

With a broad-reaching survey like this, it’s important to keep in mind with that the salary numbers are an aggregate. Individual contributors might report wide variability based on location, years of experience, industry, and etc. So if you’re slightly below these salary numbers, don’t despair! It’s more useful to look at the big picture, which shows the field of Supply Chain growing in compensation and importance every day. logo_icon

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