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The State of Work: Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics in the Inland Empire


February 2024

Executive Summary

“The State of Work: Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics in the Inland Empire” offers a comprehensive exploration of the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (TDL) sector in Southern California’s Inland Empire. This pivotal sector, integral to both national and global economies, includes transportation services, warehousing, and logistics services. Despite recent size decline, the TDL sector has shown rapid expansion over the last five years, particularly in warehousing and transportation, significantly impacting the region’s employment landscape.

This report delves into the various challenges and opportunities presented by the TDL sector. Notably, the concentration of warehouses and distribution centers has sparked concerns about environmental impacts, traffic congestion, and job quality. The authors also examine the geographic spread of warehouse developments and their community and environmental ramifications, highlighting the complex balance between economic growth and maintaining quality of life.

A key focus of this report is the detailed occupational and industry analyses, underpinned by both quantitative and qualitative research. This includes insights from interviews with warehouse workers and truck drivers, offering a closer look at the realities of working conditions in the sector. The findings reveal disparities in wages, job security, and working conditions, particularly for blue-collar roles, and discusses the implications of automation and technological advancements in the TDL sector.

This report emphasizes the need for policy interventions to enhance labor standards, enforce labor laws, and integrate labor considerations into climate policies, drawing inspiration from recent legislation like the temporary agency workers’ bill of rights. It also highlights future research directions, focusing on the sector’s continuous evolution and ensuring that the voices of those most affected remain central. The report advocates for a balanced approach, prioritizing both economic growth and the well-being of workers and the community.

The report concludes with a call to address the multifaceted impacts of the TDL sector. It underscores the importance of informed policymaking and strategic planning to harness the sector’s economic potential while mitigating its challenges. By providing a nuanced view of the TDL sector, the report aims to guide decision-makers, employers, workers, and community activists towards a sustainable and equitable economic future in the Inland Empire.

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