Has the opening of Amazon fulfillment centers affected demand for disability insurance?

PLoS One. 2023 Nov 27;18(11):e0294453. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0294453. eCollection 2023.

Abstract

An estimated 17.6% of blue-collar, manufacturing jobs were lost in the United States between 1970 and 2016. These jobs, often union-represented, provided relatively generous pay and benefits, creating a path to the middle class for individuals without a four-year college degree. Evidence suggests the closure of manufacturing facilities and resulting decline in economic opportunity increased demand for disability insurance (SSDI) among blue-collar workers. In recent years, the opening of Amazon Fulfillment Centers (FCs) has accelerated around the country, driving a wave of blue-collar job creation. We estimated the extent to which the opening of FCs affected SSDI application rates, including rates of approvals and denials, using a synthetic control group approach. We found that FC openings were associated with a 1.4% reduction in the SSDI application rate over the subsequent three years, translating to 5,528 fewer applications per year across commuting zones with an FC opening. Our findings are consistent with FC openings improving economic opportunities in local labor markets, though our confidence intervals were wide and included the null.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Insurance, Disability*
  • Occupations*
  • United States