- Despite being the busiest time of year for most retailers, the industry hired for 256,700 seasonal jobs in November, the lowest level since 2008 when the hires numbered 213,600 in the same month, according to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That represents a decline of 26% from 2021.
- During this holiday season, retailers hired for 418,700 seasonal jobs so far, a 27% drop compared to October and November last year, when hires numbered 573,000. The transportation and warehousing industry hired 167,900 jobs in November, a 30% decline year over year, per the analysis.
- The retail sector’s overall employment numbers are high, though. The industry employed 16,076,400 workers in November, the highest level of employment since November 2018. The transportation and warehousing sectors employed a record 6,714,800 workers, higher than its previous peak in December 2021.
Retailers, including Nordstrom, J.C. Penney, Walmart and Target, made seasonal hiring announcements ahead of the holiday shopping season, and even then some projections were lower than in years past. Still, the overall unemployment rate remains at 3.7%, and nonfarm employers added 263,000 jobs last month, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The decline in retail hiring builds on a similar trend from last holiday season. During October and December 2021, retailers added 7% fewer seasonal jobs year over year, another analysis by Challenger, Gray & Christmas found. By contrast, the transportation and warehousing industry saw a more modest decline at less than 1%, a change from the 67.4% jump the sector saw in 2020.
“It’s clear that retailers that hire seasonal workers are taking a cautious approach to adding positions this holiday season. Many are still unsure if workers will be needed in-store versus in online fulfillment roles, as consumers begin to return to stores. Many are still unsure if consumer spending will justify new hires, particularly as layoffs begin to ripple around the economy,” Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement.