Presenting The American Sweatshop: An Infographic Of The Online Retail Warehouse Temp Job

Tyler Durden's picture


One of the biggest surprise stories of the past several months, in addition to economic activity skewing record warm weather, and the New Normal seasonal adjustments (which as Albert Edwards noted earlier are giving data an upward bias for each of the past three years), is the consistently "better than expected" jobs numbers. There is one problem: as discussed previously, the rising jobs are purely a quantity over quality trade off, as every month more and more temp jobs take the place of permanent ones, especially those of former professionals from the FIRE sector. In fact, in January temp jobs soared by the most on record, and the total number of temp workers was just shy of all time highs. Ironically, as this happened, discretionary online retail companies have seen their stock price soar to record highs. One of the primary drivers for this has been the increased "efficiency" at these companies' hubs - their warehouses. Which just happen to be staffed with temp workers. The following infographic presents the reality behind these American "sweatshops" - because this is the "quality" of job that is rising rapidly in the current economy (at the expense of traditional permanent jobs) to give the impression of an economic recovery. There is no point in making an ethical judgment - work conditions are as they are. Just as workers at FoxConn likely have far better conditions than their peers, at least in their view, so do these temp workers view their life as better than the alternative, which is unemployment. It is, as they say, what it is.

A Peek Inside Online Retailers' Warehouses
Brought to you by: Business Insurance Guide

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Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:30 | 2278155 spiral_eyes
spiral_eyes's picture

Once again big government succeeds in "regulating" big business by putting up barriers to entry!

I bet very few of these workers would take these crappy jobs if it didn't cost $1 million to get a licence to drive a taxi, or thousands of dollars to get a licence to run a food cart. Amazon, etc, would have to offer better pay and conditions to attract workers to jobs like this.

The left thinks this is the inevitable effect of the free market, but it's the opposite.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:36 | 2278276 Fukushima Sam
Fukushima Sam's picture

These warehouse jobs don't seem that bad.  Not saying I want one, but walking 12 miles a day should keep you from getting fat on all the cheap food you have to eat on $7 an hour.  Plus, hey, if you're working 12 hour days then you don't have a lot of time for entertainment and you can save some money, perhaps faster than inflation takes it away.

Of course, if you're trying to pay your $300K mortgage and $100K student loan and  $50K car payment on this wage then I say, "Hello debt slave!"

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:40 | 2278290 LowProfile
LowProfile's picture

At $7.00 an hour it pays to grow your OWN food...

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 21:26 | 2278633 AN0NYM0US
AN0NYM0US's picture

back in the day I had a few ugly jobs

railroad gang

warehouse worker


With respect to the former that was hell, before we moved to the hinterland we were in an urban area and I recall being on a retrofitted school bus with fellow gang workers (ex con types) looking out  the window at familiar landmarks  - it was prison


once to the hinterland I lasted a half day and high tailed it


Later that summer I ended up as a temp working in a warehouse  - rasta men as collagues I was an outsider, the environment was toxic no ventalation and the warhouse was for shower curtains and the like

but the best was selling diamonds in a boiler room - great location high up in an office tower and a couple of guys running the scam ( I didn't know initially it was a scam)  going thru the yellow pages for cities far and wide asking some guy running a transmission shop if he wanted info on the beneifts of diamonds, that lasted a day, never got paid and read later that year of a raid by the authorities.


nuff of memory lane I am starting to sound like Tim Knight

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 21:37 | 2278696 The Big Ching-aso
The Big Ching-aso's picture



No wonder permanent full-time burger-flipper jobs are so in demand.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 21:45 | 2278709 Surly Bear
Surly Bear's picture

One time I remarked how difficult I found intermediate accounting 2 to be, and my dad said 'You know, they don't give accounting degrees away....' This is a man that did not graduate high school, but found his way in the Navy as a machinist, which he still does to this day (he is in his 70s). I have had my share of shit jobs including being a fish monger. Yes, if you are late in the first week then you are fired, Sorry, but get with the program: There are a lot of people out of work, and if you cannot show up on time, then they will.

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 01:39 | 2279445 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

Difference between hobby and a job it that job requires you to do it at X quality for X hours while being fully aware that majority of profits and productivity gains go to someone else and you have to kiss ass.


but consider yourself lucky that you are not born in North Korea where you literally are born inside a prison camp. upside is that you may not even be aware of the concept of money so no need to worry about inflation.


Inside the camp, I had never heard of the word "freedom". Other words like "human rights" or basic rights were never used, so I had no knowledge of these concepts.

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 10:07 | 2280250 5880
5880's picture

I'm from Apple,

can you connect me to those kids. The small hands are needed to produce iPhone 5 at current margins, Peace and Love

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 23:24 | 2279061 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

And this makes it quite affordable:

earth box,

self-watering container garden,

using the self-watering containers with soil & plants,

making the self-watering containers, ,

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 02:17 | 2279515 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

easiest way to cut your grocery bills is to simply eat less

no need to water gardens, mexican illegals are already doing that as cheap as humanly possible.

Just eat less.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:44 | 2278304 spiral_eyes
spiral_eyes's picture

The point is we can't really tell how popular these jobs would be unless the workers have the option of starting their own business instead like poor people have done throughout America's history (e.g. food cart, selling things off the back of a truck, odd jobs, taxi), which thanks to America's fantastic "regulations" (i.e. barriers to entry to keep the little people out of the game) arrests and fines anyone who doesn't have the "appropriate" licensing which just happens to cost $$$.

Maybe that's the big reason why average duration of unemployment is now like 35 weeks when it used to average like 10 weeks. 

Barriers to entry, muppetz.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:51 | 2278332 rsnoble
rsnoble's picture

Say hello to the black market. Some of us fuck 'em every chance we get. And it's only going to get bigger. Hell......maybe some of my future relatives will be filthy fucking rich like the Kennedy's.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 20:40 | 2278526 AmCockerSpaniel
AmCockerSpaniel's picture

SO; Just what did you expect we were going to get when we excepted this "FREE  TRADE"?  The one percent got the government to sell us this, and we bought it. I think we were told there would be a large sucking sound. Does anyone remember hearing something like that?

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 22:26 | 2278833 Yes_Questions
Yes_Questions's picture



Yeah, I remember us accepting the big sucker sound(s).  That'd be the heat and fury of sheeple voting against their best economic interests, buying now, paying later and all the while thinking a college experience amounted to a pathway to a carefree life in the white collar tertiary economy as the Gammas toiled and fretted over how tough working with one's mind must be.


Yay, but I do remember it well.



Thu, 03/22/2012 - 00:56 | 2279357 monoloco
monoloco's picture

How many people are working under the table while collecting their 99 weeks of unemployment and living rent free while waiting for their homes to be foreclosed on?

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 22:13 | 2278785 Kassandra
Kassandra's picture

I hate you.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 14:51 | 2286880 mkkby
mkkby's picture

If you care about your kids, let them experience what it's like to work hard like this.  Then maybe they'll have some respect for their 12 years of free education and not waste it.  Most people have choices.  The truely disabled are the only ones deserving of our sympathy.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 21:25 | 2278661 Buck Johnson
Buck Johnson's picture

Welcome to America, the land of GOOOOOOOOD Jobs.  Good god we are going down the tubes.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 22:26 | 2278784 Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar's picture

Buck, I'm trying to figure out this chatroom feature which is certainly compelling.  And while I think that God is good, we aren't really going "down the tubes".

Bottom-line is many of us here were born into a post-WWII America, a/k/a were handed a winning lottery ticket.  The value of that ticket may be depreciating quickly in a lot of eyes but it's certainly not worthless.

I think Gully Foyle nailed it below.  A warehouse gig isn't the worst thing in the world.

If you are on this site, that means you are probably at least a tad ahead of the curve.  As such, you'll probably be able to find a gig and thrive.  Don't get your panties in a bunch over the "we" concept, however.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 21:47 | 2278714 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

Boo fucking hoo. In the 80's I worked factory temp jobs. Places like MATCO would hire when orders became backlogged, then lay you off when they got caught up. People were caught in that cycle for years. MATCO, unemployment, maybe a shitty job in case MATCO called you back,

I worked for a temp agency at CUMMINS. At that time the regulars were scared because one of the southern plants closed their doors then opened the next day staffed with temps.

CUMMINS had some serious issues, even though this particular factory was nonunion, they never fired the full time fuckups.

For example, I started third shift engine test. We were hired because the previous crew would lunch at a nearby bar and never return. They were moved other areas. Most of the time we had nothing to do for half the shift.

These warehouse jobs pay better than what I made as a fulltime temp busting my ass in a hot factory.

No bennies either.

So I'm unimpressed with the whining. At least they have fucking jobs.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 23:37 | 2279113 Awakened Sheeple
Awakened Sheeple's picture

I have to agree with some of the other posters here. Besides the pay and crap bennies, it doesn't sound all that bad. Hard work never killed anyone and the reluctance of young Americans to take on an honest blue collar job is symptomatic of deeper social issues IMO.

All of the above working conditions apply to my job except for the pay. But I did have to start at the bottom making minimum wage until I moved up the ladder.

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 00:13 | 2279225 deflator
deflator's picture

You sound like a puss wad and like someone who believes there is something like an infinite ladder of success similar to the status quo of the past 150 years?

 Fuck you and the status quo you rode in on bitchez

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 00:34 | 2279293 Awakened Sheeple
Awakened Sheeple's picture

I didn't say that it is easier to move up the social ladder then in prior generations. 100 years of central bank intervention has assured that is not the case for us.

That said, fucking blow me. Life ain't easy and it ain't fair. You want to give yourself something better, you're going to have to work for it. That's true no matter what era you live in.

You sound like someone who blames the world for all his failures in life instead of trying to figure out where you fucked things up.

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 08:26 | 2279909 deflator
deflator's picture

A lot of the corruption in government has been instituted under the guise of making things, "fair".

You sound like someone who blames the world for all his failures in life instead of trying to figure out where you fucked things up.

 I have lived my life in an era where if you haven't succeeded, you have no one to blame but yourself. Not so with the current generation as they are living through the decline side of the curve. There is no ladder for many of the current generation, keeping wages low is a policy to prevent out of control inflation. Immigration policy is...

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 09:16 | 2280049 Awakened Sheeple
Awakened Sheeple's picture

Dude, I'm 33. People 10 years my junior I have more sympathy for. But it hasn't been easy for my family either. We've worked our asses off. Don't pass judgement on me for bucking the odds. I'd love to see a reset so my kids have a chance to build a better future.

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 00:53 | 2279346 monoloco
monoloco's picture

Nobody gives a shit about exploited workers in Amerika, they're too busy worrying about those poor Foxconn employees.

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 03:02 | 2279571 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

it didn't cost $1 million to get a licence to drive a taxi,


Starting a taxi business in rising oil prices environment.

Excellent idea.

But hey, the oil prices have all to do with regulations and stuff.

So once removed, prices down, taxi businesses are the best.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:08 | 2278159 A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

Well at least there's no inflation to cut into their meager slave wage............

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:21 | 2278216 Moe Howard
Moe Howard's picture

They can munch on iCrap while on the job.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 20:37 | 2278522 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

Sorry, cell phone use is grounds for dismissal.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:10 | 2278168 Id fight Gandhi
Id fight Gandhi's picture

Some fine jobs America created.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 21:07 | 2278608 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

They may not last long.

Amazon now owns Kiva and is looking to automate. I would advising kids to seek education in Information Tech, and Information Security.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:11 | 2278171 Offtheradar
Offtheradar's picture

Pretty much sums up my life.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:12 | 2278176 gwar5
gwar5's picture

You know you're in a Depression when selling T-shirts out of the back of a car is the fastest growing job.


Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:31 | 2278256 SgtSchultz
SgtSchultz's picture

And not accepting Federal Reserve Notes as payment.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 20:28 | 2278496 Dave Thomas
Dave Thomas's picture

Accepting Tide Ultra as payment!

The great clownbux exodus has begun!

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:12 | 2278177 gwar5
gwar5's picture

You know you're in a Depression when selling T-shirts out of the back of a car is the fastest growing job.


Wed, 03/21/2012 - 20:41 | 2278178 non_anon
non_anon's picture

I'll just keep sitting on my ass


edit: and it's fat

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 20:41 | 2278533 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

Excellent! I cannot wait for amnesty to bring in some new tax livestock to ease the burden for the rest of us.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:18 | 2278184 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

Let me be bold and venture outside the box by detailing a thought experiment:

It's no secret that Apple uses slave labor and people LOVE their products, ironically even those descended from slaves themselves. 

Let's take a random state, I'll use South Dakota (purely as example). What would happen if you removed 90% of labor laws to SD? You removed the min wage requirement, let children work, took away worker compensation, labor unions would be outlawed, everything. I'm not saying throw shackles on the workers and whipping them, just removing most of the regulations regarding employment for that one state.

What do you think would happen to the economy in South Dakota? Would it get better, or get worse?

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:20 | 2278206 damage
damage's picture

Wouldn't outlawing labor unions be a regulation in itself? Also, isn't workman's comp a compromise on both ends? Ie the worker gives up their right to sue in exchange for the workman's comp? I don't see why you need regulations to have such a system, you could simply make it part of the contract when you hire someone.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:25 | 2278233 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

Wouldn't outlawing labor unions be a regulation in itself?

Yea, but that's why I said 90%. Labor unions in SD would be against the law in whole.

In my thought experiment the worker get's nothing if he get's hurt. He has also has no right to sue.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:47 | 2278314 damage
damage's picture

Point taken. I just dislike it when people say stuff like "Ban unions" because a real union is just a form of free association. I realize what they've become mainly is some sort of state sponsored monster in general though nowadays.

Also I'm personally undecided on what rights workers should have to sue their employers, but I will agree it is WAY WAY too easy to sue an employer and employer's rights are trampled on constantly.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 19:54 | 2278347 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

Don't forget this is a thought experiment, not a philosophical discussion on unions.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 20:30 | 2278504 Dave Thomas
Dave Thomas's picture

Couldn't said regulationless company stipulate that they had right to fire workers of said union arbitrarily?

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 20:05 | 2278406 Freewheelin Franklin
Freewheelin Franklin's picture

In my thought experiment the worker get's nothing if he get's hurt. He has also has no right to sue.


Eliminate vicarious liability? Interesting idea. Make the worker carry his own worker's comp and liability insurance. Oh wait, that would be make him/her a freelancer/sub-contractor.


Sure. The world needs more entrepreneurs and freelancers, and fewer wage laborers and corrupt corporations and labor unions. Everyone should be self-employed. I think Lysander Spooner suggested that way back in 1850-something.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 20:19 | 2278448 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

I think we had the largest middle class in the world without labor unions at one point.

Can you argue against that?

How did Detroit do with one of the largest labor unions in the country; the UAW???

Describe Detroit to me.

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 20:45 | 2278552 LasVegasDave
LasVegasDave's picture

South Dakota would become the American Hong Kong, and quickly become the wealthiest state in the country

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 20:50 | 2278560 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

I don't agree.

The United States wasn't built with unions or labor laws.

As such, I can't agree with your premise.

We have only had a shrinking middle class with aforementioned.

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